11 climbers killed in K2 avalanche (Lead)

August 4th, 2008 - 9:09 pm ICT by IANS  

By Muhammad Najeeb
Islamabad, Aug 4 (IANS) The authorities have confirmed the death of 11 mountaineers and the rescue of two others near the K2 summit on the Pakistani side of the Himalayan peak. A spokesman for the Pakistan Army in Gilgit told reporters that army personnel have rescued two injured climbers of Irish nationality.

He also confirmed death of 11 others on the mountain.

He said the injured Irish climbers were shifted to a hospital in Skardu. The spokesperson said though the rescued climbers are out of danger, one has a frost bite on his hand while another on his foot.

The victims of the extreme weather and landslides on the snowy mountain are nationals of Nepal, Ireland, France, Korea, Spain and Pakistan.

Shabbir Mir, a spokesman for a private expedition company that had provided logistics to some of the climbers, said a team of 20 climbers of different countries started their journey to K2 June 28.

They were returning when they were trapped under a huge ice boulder Aug 1.

Mir, who himself is a climber, said: “Such accidents can happen anywhere but what is regrettable is that there are no experts here in Pakistan to provide emergency aid and to handle the rescue operations.”

“Whenever such incidents happens in Europe or even in Nepal, the rescue teams reach there in less than an hour,” Mir told IANS Monday.

He said the government should make proper arrangements for rescue operations.

“I understand that one cannot fight with nature but at least we can provide timely help,” said Mir.

Earlier in 1986, a dozen people died in similar circumstances when their camp was hit by an ice boulder on the same peak, which is considered to be most challenging by mountaineers.

Mir said four of the climbers are still on their way back and would be reaching the base camp Tuesday morning.

He said that out of 20 climbers, 11 have died, two have been rescued with severe injuries, four are on their way back while three have reached back safely.

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