Nepal storm kills climbers attempting Himalaya peak

Eight climbers from a South Korean expedition to climb Mount Gurja in Nepal have died and one remains missing, officials said on Saturday.

Nepalese authorities said a storm had struck the group of climbers at the base camp of Mount Gurja, a 7,193-meter (23,599-foot) mountain in the Annapurna region.

"We assume the incident happened because of a snowstorm because trees are broken and the tents. Even the dead bodies are scattered," Nepali police spokesman Sailesh Thapa told Agence France-Presse (AFP).

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'Blown apart'

Wengchu Sherpa, who heads the Trekking Camp Nepal agency that organized the expedition, said the rescue operation will continue on Sunday due to poor weather conditions at the base camp.

"Everything is gone, all the tents are blown apart. The conditions were too icy to continue the search," rescue pilot Siddartha Gurung told AFP.

Sherpa added that an alarm was raised after 24 hours elapsed without contact from the group.

The expedition had camped out at the base of the mountain waiting for a break in the weather to make the climb. The group included renowned climber Kim Chang-ho, the first South Korean to scale 14 of the world's highest mountains without an oxygen tank.

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Climber's paradise

Despite not being as high as other Himalayan mountains in Nepal, Mount Gurja has seen only a fraction of the climbers of the world's highest peak, Mount Everest.

A Japanese expedition reached the peak for the first time in 1969. Since then, only 30 climbers have successfully reached peak. According to the Himalayan Database, no one has made it to the summit in more than 20 years.

Nepal is home to the eight of the world's 14 highest mountains, making it a major attraction for ambitious climbers. For the cash-strapped country, revenue from climbing tourism is major source of revenue.

The Himalayas are a massive mountain range home to the world's tallest mountains and stretches across Nepal, India, China, Pakistan and Bhutan.

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