A team of rescuers has discovered the bodies of four climbers, believed to be two Sherpas and two foreigners, at the highest camp on Mount Everest. The rescuers were recovering a body of a climber who had died earlier.
The bodies were found at the altitude of 7,950 meters (26,085 feet), in a tent at Camp 4, which serves as the gathering place for climbers heading to the 8,848-meter summit.
"We don't have the details of who they are or how they died yet," said Mingma Sherpa, head of Kathmandu-based rescue agency Seven Summits Trek. Local media reported that two of the deceased were Sherpas and the remaining two were foreigners. The Sherpas believe the climbers might have died of suffocation inside the tents.
A small rescue team discovered the group while trying to retrieve the body of Slovak mountaineer Vladimir Strba, who died near the summit on Sunday. Three other people also perished over the weekend, including American Roland Yearwood, Indian Ravi Kumar, and Australian Francesco Enrico Marchetti.
Two other climbers died earlier in the year.
Sherpas are an ethnic group from the most mountainous region of Nepal, the Himalayas, and are highly valued as elite mountaineers and experts for their area.
Hundreds of climbers seek to conquer peak
An attempt to recover the four bodies would require a large team of Sherpas to bring the victims down to Camp 2, at 6,400 meters, from where they could be transported by helicopters.
Nepal issued a record 371 permits for people to climb Mount Everest this year, following two deadly avalanches which prompted the shutdown of the world's highest peak in 2014 and 2015.
The Himalayan country relies heavily on the income from fees paid for the permits by mountaineers.
Climbers who had permits for 2014 were allowed to renew them for free until 2019, while climbers with 2015 permits were given only until this year. The Kathmandu authorities normally charge $11,000 (9,840 euros) per permit.
While the death toll of ten is larger than usual, the dangerous climb usually claims around half a dozen lives each season, experts say.
In April, Swiss climber Ueli Steck died while he was on an acclimatization climb, and 85-year-old Min Bahadur Sherchan died in May while trying to reclaim his title as the world's oldest person to reach the summit of Mount Everest.
dj/jm (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)