Three Nepali Sherpa guides are missing on Mount Everest after an avalanche swept down and buried them in a crevasse on Wednesday, a Tourism Department official said.
The avalanche hit the most popular Southeast Ridge route to the summit of the world’s tallest mountain.
Three guides who were ferrying climbing gear for their clients were caught at an unspecified site between the Base Camp and Camp I on its lower parts.
The Everest Base Camp, which turns into a tented city during the March-May climbing season, is located at an altitude of about 5,350 metres (17,552 feet) and Camp I is pitched across the treacherous Khumbu Icefall, the first major physical hurdle to the peak, at an altitude of about 6,050 metres (19,850 feet).
Tourism Department official Yubaraj Khatiwada told International Media Organization Reuters that, “A block of snow fell and buried them.”
Wednesday’s disaster was the first on Mount Everest during this year’s climbing season, when hundreds of foreign and Nepali climbers are expected flock to the mountain to attempt to reach its 8,849 metres (29,032 feet) peak.
Mount Everest was first climbed by New Zealander Sir Edmund Hillary and his climbing mate Sherpa Tenzing Norgay in 1953.
Thousands of climbers have scaled the peak since then and about 300 climbers have perished on its slopes so far.
Khatiwada said a search helicopter had been mobilized for the Sherpas who are believed to have been buried in a 50 metre (164 feet) crevasse. A ground search team also failed to locate the missing climbers so far,Khatiwada said.
Nepal, tucked between China and India, is home to eight of the world’s 14 tallest peaks including Everest.
Climbing Mount Everest and many other smaller peaks is a popular adventure sport in Nepal as well as a source of employment and income to the cashed-strapped nation.