Two climbers from the United States and Switzerland have died on Mount Everest, the first fatalities of this year's season, expedition organisers in Nepal said today.
On average, around five climbers die every year on the world's highest peak.
But in recent seasons, Everest has seen a surge in the number of climbers, leading to overcrowding that has been blamed for multiple deaths.
"Two climbers passed away on Wednesday," Mingma Sherpa of Seven Summit Treks told AFP.
Swiss climber Abdul Waraich, 40, died near the summit after reaching the top and suffering exhaustion, said Chhang Dawa Sherpa from the same organisation.
"We sent two additional Sherpas with oxygen and foods, unfortunately Sherpas couldn't save him," he said on Instagram.
The International Association of Ahmadi Architects & Engineers said Mr Waraich had been a "dedicated member of the IAAAE family" who "served selflessly for many years in Switzerland".
American Puwei Liu, 55, reached the Hillary Step but was helped back down after he suffered snow blindness and exhaustion, organisers said.
He was able to reach Camp 4, "before he suddenly passed away" late last night, Chhang Dawa Sherpa said.
Eleven people died climbing the world's highest peak in 2019, with four deaths blamed on overcrowding.
On one day, 354 people were lined up to reach the top from Nepal's southern side and Tibet's northern approach.
It is with a heavy heart that we share the sad news of our dear brother Abdul Waheed Waraich Sb who passed away on the 11th of May during the descent after conquering Mt Everest— IAAAE (@IAAAE_org) May 13, 2021
To Allah we belong and to him we shall return
May Allah grant him a lofty status in paradise Ameen ???? pic.twitter.com/w6RvzvqMfu
To ease the crowding Nepal's tourism ministry announced rules capping the number of people who can summit the mountain per window of suitable weather.
Expedition organisers have been told to send teams up the peak strictly in accordance with permit numbers or limit the number of climbers going up at one time.
The coronavirus pandemic wiped out last year's season, but Nepal has eased quarantine rules to attract more climbers despite the difficulties of treating them if they contract the virus.
Nepal has issued 408 climbing permits this season, topping the previous record of 381 in 2019.
A city of tents hosting more than 1,000 people - foreign climbers and support staff - has built up at the foot of Everest and the hotels along the trek are back in business.
The warmer weather that ushers in safer conditions for scaling Nepal's dangerous, snow-capped peaks has coincided with a deadly second wave of Covid-19 infections.
In recent weeks more than 30 sick climbers have been evacuated from base camp although only three have been confirmed as having had coronavirus.
The usual communal parties are absent this year at base camps after expedition groups were asked to keep to themselves and avoid socialising with others.
Breathing is already difficult at high altitudes so any coronavirus outbreak among climbing groups could pose severe health risks.