Himalayan storm: Climbers' bodies removed from Nepal mountain

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

A group of South Korean climbers and their guides have died on Nepal's Mount Gurja after a violent snowstorm hit their camp.

A helicopter was sent to investigate and spotted the bodies, but strong winds prevented the rescue team from retrieving the dead.

Helicopter pilot Siddartha Gurung was among the first people to reach the site after the deadly storm and described a scene of total destruction with the tents flattened and the climber's bodies scattered across the area.

Meanwhile, a quick response team from the South Korean Foreign Ministry will head to Nepal on Monday afternoon to provide administrative assistance when transporting the bodies.

Police official Bir Bahadur Budhamagar said rescuers helped by locals retrieved the bodies of the nine climbers on Sunday from near their basecamp at Mount Gurja, a 7,193 metre-high peak (23,600 feet), located roughly 216 km (135 miles) northwest of Nepal's capital, Kathmandu.

In 2013, the expedition's leader, Chang-ho, set a record as the fastest climber to reach the peaks of the world's 14 tallest mountains without using supplemental oxygen, mountaineering officials say, in ascents made since 2005.

Five South Korean climbers including team leader Kim Chang-ho along with their Nepali support staff were killed in the incident, Sherpa said.

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The climbers were also attempting to scale a 7,193-meter (23,590-foot) peak which is not among the highest, the most hard or popular mountain to climb in Nepal.

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.

"Base camp looks like a bomb went off", added Dan Richards of Global Rescue, a US-based emergency assistance group assisting in the retrieval effort.

Agence France-Presse reporter Ammu Kannampilly (2R), and Nepalese guide Pasang Sherpa (R) stand on a ridge over a valley leading north into the Khumbu region as they try to get a clear view of Mt. Everest on April 18, 2015.

Spring and autumn are the optimal climbing seasons in Nepal in between the harsh winter and summer monsoon.

Only 30 people have reached the apex of Mt. Gurja, the last one in 1996, according to the Himalayan Database.

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