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Bodies of nine climbers killed on Nepal peak found

AFP  |  Kathmandu 

A rescue team Sunday began retrieving the bodies of nine climbers killed in a violent storm on Nepal's Mount Gurja, a freak accident that has left the community reeling.

A helicopter dropped four mountain guides at the camp where the South Korean climbing expedition was staying when powerful winds and snow swept through, killing the entire team and scattering their bodies as far as 500 metre (1,640 foot) away.

"All nine bodies have been found and the team are in the process of bringing them down," said Siddartha Gurung, a who is coordinating the retrieval mission.

Attempts to reach the in the in Nepal's Annapurna region on Saturday were hampered by strong winds.

Gurung did manage to reach the area and described a scene of total destruction.

"looks like a bomb went off," said of Global Rescue, a US-based emergency group that will be helping with the retrieval effort.

The expedition was led by experienced South Korean Kim Chang-ho, who has climbed the world's 14 highest mountains without using supplemental oxygen.

experts are questioning how the experienced team was so badly hit while still at at around 3,500 metres.

"At this point we don't understand how this happened. You don't usually get those sorts of extreme winds at that altitude and base camps are normally chosen because they are safe places," said Richards.

The team -- five South Koreans and four Nepali guides -- had been on 7,193-metre (23,599-foot) since early October, hoping to scale the rarely climbed mountain via a new route.

A sixth South Korean was staying at a village lower in the valley when the storm hit, after being forced to a lower altitude by health problems.

The freak storm is the deadliest incident to hit Nepal's industry since 18 people were killed at Mount Everest's in 2015 in an avalanche triggered by a powerful earthquake.

The previous year, 16 Sherpas were killed on when an avalanche swept through the Khumbu Icefall during the busy spring climbing season.

Then in October that year, a blizzard killed more than 40 tourists and their guides in the Annapurna region, a disaster that was largely blamed on poor weather forecasting and lacklustre safety standards in Nepal's poorly regulated trekking industry.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sun, October 14 2018. 10:50 IST