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Nepal Avalanche: Nine Dead And Three Missing

An avalanche has swept away climbers at one of the highest mountains in the world, killing at least nine people and leaving another three missing.

Eight of those who died on Mount Manaslu have been identified, a spokesman for the Nepal tourism board spokesman said.

Sarad Pradhan confirmed the victims included four French citizens, one Nepali mountain guide, one Spaniard, one German and one Italian.

Rescuers have scaled down the search for the missing, two French climbers and a Canadian, who were part of the group hit by a wall of snow in their tents near the peak of the 8,156m (26,759ft) mountain.

Police said they had halted helicopter rescue operations, although sherpa guides were still looking for the trio.

Thirteen mountaineers survived the avalanche on Manaslu, which is the eighth highest mountain on the world and considered to be one of the most dangerous.

Five were airlifted to hospital in Nepal's capital Kathmandu, district police chief Basanta Bahadur Kunwar said.

"The other eight mountaineers who are at the base camp have not sustained any injuries," he added.

"They have said they will either walk down or will make an attempt to reach the peak again and have told officials that they should not be rescued."

Speaking from his hospital bed in Kathmandu, one of the survivors, Andreas Reiter, from Germany, described the moment the avalanche hit.

"We were sleeping in our tent after having dinner, when all of a sudden we heard the noise of other climbers screaming," he told the Himalayan Times.

"Within moments, we were hit by the avalanche.

"I witnessed one of the team members die."

The accident took place at 22,950ft, making it difficult for rescue teams to reach the scene.

Hundreds of foreign climbers flock every year to Himalayan peaks in Nepal, which has eight of the world's 14 highest mountains.

September marks the beginning of the climbing season, which runs until November.

In the last major accident in the area, at least 42 people, including 17 foreigners, were killed in heavy snowfall in the Mount Everest region in 1995.