Seven climbers dead and two missing on Nepal’s Mount Gurja after storm hits camp

The group, five South Koreans and their four Nepali guides, were trying to ascend Mount Gurja, a 7,193m (23,599ft) peak.

A storm on Friday night destroyed their camp and two rescue helicopters sent early Saturday were unable to land due to bad weather conditions.

Police reports say the group were at their base camp at the time.

Villagers who reached base camp on Saturday afternoon found the bodies of four South Korean climbers, two Nepalese guides and another person yet to be identified.

The search continues for two more people, a Nepalese police official said.

A police team heading to the base camp on foot are likely to reach there on Sunday.

There were inconsistent reports about the suspected cause of the deaths, with some saying a landslide or avalanche swept through the camp.

Helicopter pilot Siddartha Gurung told AFP: “Everything is gone, all the tents are blown apart. The conditions were too icy to continue the search.”

One of the South Korean climbers has been identified as Kim Chang-ho, who in 2013 became the fastest person to summit the world’s 14 highest mountains without using supplemental oxygen.

Wangchu Sherpa, of the Trekking Camp Nepal agency, which provided support to the climbers, said: “Our rescue operation is continuing and we are trying to find details.”

Mount Gurja, also called Gurja Himal, while not famous as one of Nepal’s most challenging peaks, is part of the Dhaulagiri range, which is topped by Dhaulagiri I, the seventh-highest mountain in the world.

The incident is the worst to hit climbers in Nepal since 18 people were killed at the Mount Everest base camp in 2015 in an avalanche triggered by a powerful earthquake.

The Dhaulagiri massif, about 130 miles (210km) northwest of Kathmandu, has been responsible for the deaths of dozens of climbers since the first recorded attempt on one of its lower summits in 1954.

Gurja itself was not conquered until as late as 1969 and is said to have a challenging south face.

Nepal is in peak climbing season at present after the end of monsoon season.