First Injured Everest Tourists and Sherpas Reach Kathmandu
Photo courtesy of Thinkstock
A group that survived the avalanche that swept over Mount Everest have arrived in Kathmandu via air, Fox News reported. They were taken to local hospitals, but none appeared to have life-threatening injuries.
Seventeen are confirmed dead, including an American Google executive, from Saturday's avalanche, set off by an earthquake. The mass of snow swept down the mountain and over the makeshift village of nylon tents at base camp. There, dozens of teams, were training and acclimatizing to the exceedingly high altitudes, preparing to summit the world’s highest mountain.
In terms of the number of people present when the avalanche swept through, ETurbonews quoted Nepal Tourism Ministry spokesman Gyanendra Shrestha, who said about 1,000 climbers, including around 400 foreign adventure tourists, were either at base camp or climbing Everest at that moment.
Bad weather is preventing more helicopter flights, but the 22 most severely injured were taken to the nearest medical facility in the village of Pheriche for treatment.
Of those who arrived at Kathmandu, 12 were Nepalese Sherpas, and one person each from China, South Korea, and Japan. The sherpas said they feared more could be dead on the mountain.
Bhim Bahadur Khatri, 35, a survivor flown into Kathmandu, painted a harrowing picture of the avalanche and its aftermath to the Associated Press. He was cooking in a meal tent when the quake struck.
"We all rushed out to the open and the next moment a huge wall of snow just piled on me," he said at the airport before transport to the hospital. "I managed to dig out of what could easily have been my grave. I wiggled and used my hands as claws to dig as much as I could. I was suffocating, I could not breathe. But I knew I had to survive."
He dug out, and was faced with a scene of destruction. "I looked around and saw the tents all torn and crushed. Many people were injured," he said. "I had lived but lost many of my friends."
The danger is still very real for climbers still trapped above base camp. Garrett Madison, owner of the Seattle-based Madison Mountaineering expedition company, and 18 other climbers are stranded at two locations farther up the mountain. Madison managed to make a satellite phone call that was posted on the company’s website. He said, in part:
“We have been up here at Camp 2 hanging tough but we are running low on food and fuel and we have to get down. There’s no path or route through the Khumbu icefall at this point in time. The teams that have tried to make their way through the icefall today were unsuccessful and will not be attempting again in the future. So at this point our only option to get down is by helicopter evacuation.”
He also paid tribute to Marisa Eve Girawong, an emergency room physician's assistant who was serving as base camp doctor for the company who was killed in the avalanche.
The video below was shot at the moment the avalanche hit Everest Base Camp:
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