Group of nine missing in Nepal Himalayas

Avalanche hits Nepal peak 9 climbers killed

Avalanche hits Nepal peak 9 climbers killed

Kathmandu - Five South Korean climbers and three Nepalese guides are feared dead after a snowstorm tore apart their base camp at Mount Gurja in western Nepal, police said Saturday.

Wangchu Sherpa, head of the Trekking Camp Nepal agency that provided local support to the South Korean team, said the camp had been devastated, citing the pilot of a rescue helicopter that was sent to look for the missing group on Saturday morning. "Even the dead bodies are scattered", police spokesman Sailesh Thapa told AFP.

Gurung landed a helicopter just above the expedition team's camp, but icy and unstable conditions meant they were unable to retrieve any of the bodies.

"The camp was completely destroyed", the BBC heard from Myagdi district official Liladhar Adhikari.

Tourism Ministry official Rameshwar Niraula said the storm struck the group at the base camp of Mount Gurja, a mountain of 7,913 metres on Saturday.

The climbing permit listed four South Korean climbers, but a fifth member had joined the team later, according to Suresh Dakal of Trekking Camp Nepal.

Four climbers have perished on its flanks and a total of 30 have successfully reached its peak - a fraction of the more than 8,000 people who have summited the world's highest mountain, Everest.

According to the Himalayan Database, no-one has stood on Gurja's summit since 1996.

Kim Chang-ho, the fastest person to climb the world's 14 highest mountains without using supplemental oxygen, is among the dead.

The climbers had been waiting for a window of good weather so they could reach the summit, when the storm hit Friday.