At least seven climbers died when a violent snowstorm destroyed their camp on a Himalayan peak in western Nepal.
A five-member South Korean expedition team and four Nepali guides were at the base camp of Mount Gurja when the storm struck, police said on Saturday.
The crew of a rescue helicopter confirmed seeing seven bodies in the ruins of the camp, but was unable to stay due to bad weather conditions.
Two climbers are yet to be found but are also feared dead.
“The recovery mission is in progress,” police spokesman Sailesh Thapa said. “The incident happened due to a snowstorm. One helicopter tried to land but couldn’t due to bad weather.”
Local media report that South Korean climber Kim Chang-ho, the fastest person to reach the summits the world’s 14 highest mountains without using supplemental oxygen, is among the dead.
“The camp was completely destroyed,” said Myagdi district official Liladhar Adhikari. “[A recovery team] could see the bodies of the climbers scattered near the camp.”
He said another recovery team would be sent on Sunday, weather conditions permitting.
Expedition organisers raised the alarm after losing contact with the group, which set off on 7 October, for nearly 24 hours.
The climbers had been waiting for a window of good weather so they could reach the summit, when the storm hit Friday.
The base camp, which is at least one-day’s trek from the nearest village, is at 3,500m (11,483ft), on the 7,193m-high mountain.
The rarely-climbed Mount Gurja sits in Nepal’s Annapurna region, next to avalanche-prone Dhaulagiri, the world’s seventh highest mountain.
According to the Himalayan Database, no-one has stood on Gurja’s summit since 1996.
Only 30 people have successfully climbed to its peak compared with more the than 8,000 people who have reached the summit of the world’s highest mountain, Everes