SA climbers safe after Everest avalanche

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Saray Khumalo1 Independent Newspapers. Mountain climber Saray Khumalo.

Johannesburg - South African climbers were safe following an avalanche on Mount Everest, the world's highest mountain, which left at least 13 Nepalese mountain guides dead, the City Press reported.

Saray Khumalo, seeking to be the first black woman to summit Everest, told the newspaper she and Sibusiso Vilane were at base camp on Friday morning when the avalanche occurred around 500 metres further up the mountain.

Vilane, the first black African to climb Everest, sent a message soon afterwards to say that he and his fellow South African climbers were safe.

News agency Agence France-Presse reported on Sunday the search for Nepalese guides still missing after the deadliest accident was suspended Sunday due to bad weather.

Thirteen guides were killed and nine were plucked to safety after an ice avalanche smashed into their expedition on Friday, but thick cloud has halted rescuers' efforts to find the remaining three.

City Press reported that Vilane and Khumalo were part of a group of 23 climbers.

Leading South African mountaineer Ronnie Muhl, also on Everest, said: “Rescue work is being done right around us here in the base camp.

“Rescue helicopters have already brought at least 12 bodies down from the mountain to a spot about 50m from here.”

He said it was without a doubt the “most serious tragedy in Everest's climbing history, with the helicopter pilots doing an “incredible job” in life-threatening conditions. - Sapa



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