Nepalese officials say an avalanche on the world's eighth highest peak has killed nine climbers from France, Spain, Germany and Italy. Others were still missing on Mount Manaslu by nightfall on Sunday.
The snow mass swamped two teams totaling about 25 climbers before dawn on Sunday. They were reportedly camped around the 7,000-meter level on Manaslu, which peaks at 8,163 meters (26,775 feet) in northwestern Nepal.
France's SNGM national union of mountain guides said the dead included at least four French climbers. The French foreign ministry said it had no confirmation of this.
Local officials said the other climbers killed were two Spaniards, one Nepalese Sherpa and one German. He was from the Munich area, according to the German news agency DPA. Italy's ANSA news agency, citing diplomatic sources, said one Italian climber was also among the dead.
The French SNGM's vice president, Christian Trommsdorff, said the climbers caught by the avalanche were members of two Himalayan expeditions.
At least six survivors, some with injuries, were rescued by helicopter and flown to the capital, Kathmandu. Police identified them as three French, two Germans and a Nepalese. Local police said 13 in total had been rescued.
Engulfed while sleeping
German survivor Andreas Reitero, 26, said the avalanche stuck at 4 a.m. local time Sunday while he was sleeping in his tent. He was swept long but was left lying on the surface, not buried by snow.
"It was a big sound. I was afraid. I can't say how far I was swept away. I had luck," Reitero said.
The rescued Italian climber Silvio Mondinelli said he "saw at least 13 dead, but there could be even more" under the snow.
Nepalese police inspector Basant Mishra said cloud and fog had hampered search and rescue efforts. Recovery teams had had difficulty reaching the remote site.
DW Reporter Stefan Nestler documented Manaslu in 2007
Dipendra Paudel, a Nepalese tourism ministry official, said Manaslu had a reputation as a "killer mountain."
"The avalanche occurred because of sudden sunshine after days of cold weather," Paudel said.
Deaths have become frequent during Nepal's two international climbing seasons, one from April to May and the other from September until October, during the monsoon season. In 1995, at least 42 people were killed in heavy snowfall in the Mount Everest region.
ipj/mkg (dpa, Reuters, AFP)