Indian climber and two sherpas missing in Nepal

Thursday 22 May 2014 17.18
The group successfully summited Mount Kanchenjunga last Sunday
The group successfully summited Mount Kanchenjunga last Sunday

A female Indian climber and two sherpas are missing after being hit by an avalanche while climbing on Mount Kanchenjunga, her family and Nepalese officials said today.

Chhanda Gayen and her three Nepalese guides successfully reached the summit of Mount Kanchenjunga last Sunday, before attempting to scale a lower peak on a different part of the world's third-highest mountain on Tuesday.

Ms Gayen, an experienced climber in her 30s who scaled Everest last year, was on her way down from the 8,505m high peak on Tuesday evening, when the avalanche struck at 5,500 metres, officials said.

"An Indian climber... Chhanda Gayen, and two sherpas have gone missing," said Dipak KC from the tourism ministry.

After the accident, Na Tashi Sherpa, the only known survivor from Ms Gayen's team, alerted Seven Summits, the Nepalese expedition company handling her climb.

"Rescue operations so far have been unsuccessful. We will resume search tomorrow morning," said Pasang Sherpa of Seven Summits.

The avalanche comes a month after 16 Nepalese guides were killed in the deadliest ever accident on Mount Everest, spurring a virtual shutdown of the world's tallest peak.

The disaster highlighted the huge risks taken by sherpa guides on behalf of foreign clients.

It fuelled demands for better death and injury benefits after the government initially offered $400 to each of the families of those killed.