KATMANDU, Nepal -- An avalanche hit climbers on a high Himalayan peak in Nepal yesterday, leaving at least nine dead and six others missing, officials said. Many of the climbers were French or German.
Police official Basanta Bahadur Kuwar said the bodies of a Nepalese guide and a German man were recovered and that rescue pilots had spotted seven other bodies on the slopes of Mount Manaslu in northern Nepal, the eighth-highest mountain in the world.
In Madrid, Spain's Foreign Ministry said one of those killed was Spanish, but did not disclose the person's identity. The identities of the other victims were still being confirmed.
Ten other climbers survived the avalanche but many were injured and were flown to hospitals by rescue helicopters, Kuwar said.
Rescue pilot Pasang, who uses only one name, said three injured French citizens and two Germans had been transported to hospitals in Katmandu. He said rescuers were also attempting to bring the bodies of the dead back to the base camp.
Weather conditions were deteriorating and it was not possible to continue air searches of the mountain Sunday afternoon, Kuwar said.
The avalanche hit the climbers at a camp at 22,960 feet early in the morning as they were preparing to head toward the summit, which is 26,760 feet high.
There were Italian, German and French teams on the mountain, with a total of 231 climbers and guides, but not all were at the higher camps, officials said.
Nepal has eight of the 14 highest peaks in the world. Climbers have complained in recent years that climbing conditions have deteriorated and risks of accidents have increased.
He told The Associated Press the mountains now have considerably less ice and snow, making it harder for climbers to use ice axes and crampons on their boots to get a grip on the slopes.
Loose snow also increases the risk of avalanches.