Nepal rescuers retrieve bodies of 9 climbers killed on Mount Gurja

Mount Gurja in Nepal's Dhaulagiri range

Five South Korean climbers and their four Nepali guides have been killed after a storm devastated their base camp in the Himalayas, local police and hiking officials have said.

The bodies of nine climbers killed on Nepal's Mount Gurja were retrieved on Sunday (Oct 14) as rescuers tried to piece together what led to the freak accident, the deadliest to hit the Himalayan nation's mountaineering industry in recent years.

The South Korean embassy in Nepal said Sunday that all nine bodies were transported to a nearby village. after a mission that began early in the morning.

Wangchu Sherpa, of the Trekking Camp Nepal agency, said the rescue helicopter sent to look for the climbers could not land due to poor visibility. "(They) fell off a cliff and died", the South Korean Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

In a Facebook post, South Korean President Moon Jae-in identified the South Korean climbers as team leader Kim Chang-ho and team members Lee Jae-hoon, Yim Il-jin, Yoo Young-jik and Jung Joon-mo.

Helicopter pilot Siddartha Gurung was among the first people to reach the site after the deadly storm and described a scene of total destruction.

"Everything is gone, all the tents are blown apart".

Friday's storm was the deadliest incident in Nepal's mountaineering industry since 18 people were killed at Mount Everest base camp in 2015 in an avalanche triggered by a powerful quake.

A team of security personnel and high-altitude rescue workers who landed at the base camp via a helicopter recovered the nine bodies from the ravine.

Kim received the honor for leading a team of three up a new route on the south face of 7,455-meter-high Mt. Gangapurna, in the west Nepalese Annapurna region.

Police reports say the storm struck while the group were at their base camp, which was destroyed.

Only 30 people have ever reached the summit of Mount Gurja with the last successful ascent recorded in 1996, according to the Himalayan Database.

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