Nine climbers missing on Nepal's Mount Gurja after storm hits camp

Nepal is home to eight of the world’s 14 highest mountains including Mount Everest and the autumn climbing season is now at its peak. — Reuters pic

Five South Korean climbers and their four Nepalese guides were found dead on Saturday. after a snowstorm in the Himalayas.

It was the deadliest Himalayan accident since 19 people were killed at the base camp of Everest in 2015, after an avalanche set off by a devastating natural disaster.

The bodies of the climbers - five South Koreans and four Nepalis - will be flown to Pokhara, a tourist hub that serves as a gateway to the Annapurna region, and then to Kathmandu, said Yogesh Sapkota of Simrik Air, a helicopter company involved in the effort.

The climbers were attempting to scale the 7,193-meter (23,590-foot) peak during the Autumn climbing season.

The police officer said a search-and-rescue team on a helicopter was likely to collect and retrieve the bodies on Sunday.

He said all the tents had been flattened, reduced to a tangled mess of tarpaulin and broken polls, and the climbers' bodies were scattered across a wide area, including some in a river bed some 500 metres (1,640 feet) away from the main camp.

The Himalayan Times reported a landslide on the south face of Mt Dhaulagiri in western Nepal buried the climbers, according to the expedition organiser Wangchu Sherpa, managing director at Trekking Camp Nepal.

"It is hard to collect the bodies with the small helicopter that we spotted them with", a ministry official said.

A sixth South Korean climber was staying at a village lower in the valley when the storm hit, after being forced to a lower altitude by health problems.

In April, an Italian climber died after he was blown off Mount Dhaulagiri, the world's seventh highest peak which neighbours Mount Gurja.

The freak accident is the deadliest incident to hit Nepal's mountaineering industry since 18 people were killed at Mount Everest's base camp in 2015 in an avalanche triggered by a powerful quake.

The Myagdi District Police Office identified the deceased Koreans as Jaehun Lee, Chang Ho Kin, Jin Rim, Youngjik Yoo and Joon Mo Jeong.

Kim became the first person in the country and the fastest in the world to summit the world's 14 highest mountains without using supplementary oxygen in 2013.

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