A high-altitude avalanche killed at least 12 Nepalese Sherpa guides on Mount Everest today, according to officials. Three guides were critically injured and up to five people are missing, according to Mohan Krishna Sapkota of Nepal’s tourism ministry. It’s being called “the single deadliest accident on Mount Everest.”
A climber who had witnessed today’s avalanche stated that the snowslide “came out of nowhere.”
“Without warning, a large chunk of ice broke loose,” Australian climber Gavin Turner told ABC News. “There were a few seconds of panic where I thought this is going to collect us.”
The Sherpa guides had gone to fix ropes for other climbers early in the morning when a large chunk of ice swept them away at approximately 6:30 a.m., according to Nepal Tourism Ministry official Krishna Lamsal.
The avalanche hit an area that is nicknamed the “popcorn field” because of its bulging chucks of ice and it is just below Camp 2.
Dawa Tashi, a survivor, had been airlifted to Katmandu and was in the intensive care unit at Grande Hospital in Katmandu. Doctors said that he had several broken ribs and would be in the hospital for a few days.
Everest was first climbed by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa in 1953, and since then more than 4,000 climbers have scaled it. Close to 250 people have died on the mountain.
It is on the border between the Chinese region of Tibet and Nepal, and can be climbed from both sides. The climbing season usually comes to an end in late May.