Climbers leave Mount Everest after quake
KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) – Mountaineers, guides and porters streamed from Mount Everest base camp on Sunday in the wake of a deadly earthquake-triggered avalanche that obliterated parts of the rocky village of nylon tents.
Some warned that dozens of people may still be missing.
The worst injured were ferried out in helicopters, while those remaining at base camp endured a series of powerful aftershocks, some of which caused smaller but still terrifying avalanches in the surrounding mountains.
The avalanche on Saturday, set off by the massive earthquake that struck Nepal, left at least 18 people dead and dozens more injured. Overall, the quake killed more than 2 500 people.
But as the first stunned survivors of the avalanche reached Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital, they said that dozens of people may still be missing and were almost certainly dead.
“The snow swept away many tents and people,” said Gyelu Sherpa, a sunburned guide among the first group of 15 injured survivors to reach Kathmandu.
The 15, most of them Sherpa guides or support staff working on Everest, flew from Lukla, a small airstrip not far from Everest. None were believed to be facing life-threatening injuries, but many limped to a bus taking them to a nearby hospital, or were partially wrapped in bandages.
Bhim Bahadur Khatri, 35, a cook and a Sherpa, was preparing food in a meal tent when the avalanche struck.
“We all rushed out to the open and the next moment a huge wall of snow just piled on me,” he said in a brief airport interview before being driven to a 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.”
When he finally dug his way out, gulping in fresh air, he was surrounded by devastation. Part of the base camp village was gone.
“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 magnitude-7.8 quake struck at around noon Saturday – just over a year after the deadliest avalanche on record hit Everest, killing 16 Sherpa guides on April 18, 2014.