World / Asia-Pacific

All climbers at camps high up Qomolangma airlifted to safety

(Agencies) Updated: 2015-04-28 16:00
All climbers at camps high up Qomolangma airlifted to safety

A rescue helicopter is shown at the Mount Qomolangma south base camp in Nepal a day after a huge earthquake-caused avalanche killed at least 17 people, in this photo courtesy of taken on April 26, 2015 and released on April 27, 2015. Rescue teams, helped by clear weather, used helicopters to airlift scores of people stranded at higher altitudes, two at a time. [Photo/Agencies]

NEW DELHI - All of the climbers who had been stranded at camps high up Mount Qomolangma by a huge earthquake and avalanches have been helicoptered to safety, mountaineers reported from base camp on Tuesday.

Taking advantage of Monday's clear weather, three helicopters shuttled climbers all day from camp 1, above the impassable Khumbu icefalls, while others trekked back from camp 2 to be airlifted out.

Around half of the tents at Qomolangma base camp were destroyed by an avalanche unleashed by Saturday's 8.1 magnitude earthquake, killing between 17 and 22 climbers, according to separate accounts.

Canadian Nick Cienski said many of the returning climbers' tent camps had been wiped out by the avalanche which, surging at speeds estimated at up to 300 km per hour, cut a swath through base camp, hurling gear, people and tents hundreds of feet.

"Many of these people have no camps, no tents, nothing left - everything is strewn all over the glacier," Cienski said in a video dispatch recorded on Monday and posted on his Facebook page.

"The only thing they've got is what they land with in the helicopter, what's in their packs."

Around 350 foreign climbers, and double the number of local sherpa guides, had been on the 8,850-meter (29,035-foot) mountain when the worst ever disaster on world's tallest peak struck.

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