Rescuers search for Everest avalanche victims

KATHMANDU- Rescuers searched Mount Everest for bodies Saturday as authorities ruled out hope of finding any more survivors from an avalanche that killed at least 12 Nepalese guides in the deadliest accident ever on the world’s highest peak.

Four sherpas were still missing from Friday’s avalanche.

The victims were among a large party of sherpas who left Everest base camp before dawn, carrying tents, food and ropes to prepare camps for foreign clients ahead of the main climbing season starting later this month.

Nepal tourism ministry official Dipendra Paudel said search teams were trying to locate bodies buried under snow.

“There’s no chance of finding the four men still missing alive. They’ve been under the snow for over 24 hours,” Paudel told AFP.

“Our hope is to find the bodies now. But we cannot confirm a death toll of 16 until we do,” he said.

The avalanche occurred early Friday at an altitude of about 5,800 metres (19,000 feet) in an area nicknamed the “popcorn field” due to ice boulders on the route leading into the treacherous Khumbu ice fall.

Dozens of guides were on the move when a huge block of ice broke off from a hanging glacier, before splitting into smaller chunks and barreling down into the ice fall, one of the most dangerous areas on the route to ascend Everest.

The ice “tumbled for several thousand feet, resulting in debris that came further out into the icefall”, according an account by the International Mountain Guides climbing company, which has a team stationed on the peak.