News & Current Affairs

August 3, 2008

Seven feared dead in K2 avalanche

At least seven climbers are feared dead in an avalanche after scaling the world’s second-highest mountain, K2, expedition organisers have said.

There are fears more of the climbers, who are of mixed nationalities, could have died in the accident in northern Pakistan, but others reached safety.

A chunk from an ice pillar snapped away on Friday and broke ropes on a feature called the Bottleneck, reports said.

Only a few hundred people have climbed K2 and dozens have died in the attempt.

Fatality rate

One Basque climber who reached safety, Alberto Zerain, told reporters the 18-person international expedition hit trouble on descent.

The mountaineers included Koreans, Pakistanis, Nepalis, a Dutchman and an Italian, reports said, but there are other nationalities and the exact details are unclear.

One of the climbers reported missing is Gerard McDonnell, 37, from County Limerick in Ireland, the first Irish person to reach the mountain’s summit.

Many regard K2, at 8,611 metres (28,251 ft), the most difficult mountain in the world to climb.

The fatality rate for those who reach the summit is three times higher than that for Mount Everest.

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