Three climbers die as Everest season winds down

KATHMANDU Mon May 21, 2012 2:19pm BST

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KATHMANDU (Reuters) - Three climbers including a German physician died while descending from the summit of Mount Everest, officials said on Monday.

Eberhard Schaaf, 61, from Aachen, Germany, who was climbing with the Eco Everest Expedition to remove decades-old garbage from the mountain, died on Saturday along the normal Southeast Ridge Route on the 8,850 metre (29,035 feet) peak.

"Schaaf died at the South Summit of Sagarmatha due to altitude sickness," said Ang Tshering Sherpa, chief of the Asian Trekking company that organised the expedition referring to the Nepali name of the mountain. South Summit is about 8,747 metre (28,697 feet) high.

He said the body was lying on the mountain and the family as well as the German Embassy in Nepal had been informed.

"If the family wants the body to be brought down we will try, but it is very difficult to do so from that altitude," Sherpa said.

Tourism Ministry official Gyanendra Shrestha said Shriya Shah, a 32-year-old Nepal-born woman living in Canada, and a Korean, Song Won-Bin, also died while climbing down from the summit at the weekend.

"Two other climbers have gone missing on the mountain since Saturday," Shrestha told Reuters from the base camp without giving details.

A 73-year-old Japanese woman improved her own record and climbed the peak for a second time at the weekend becoming the world's oldest woman to scale the giant peak.

Two Nepali sherpa guides died on the mountain last month.

Nearly 3,700 people have climbed Mount Everest since 1953 when Sir Edmund Hillary of New Zealand and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay scaled it.

At least 236 people have died on the slopes of the giant peak so far.

About 300 climbers are at different camps waiting for a window of good weather to climb the peak before the onset of annual monsoon rains next month before which all climbers evacuate from the Himalayas in Nepal.

Many foreigners have already left the mountain without reaching the top citing the risk to climbers because of bad weather and high winds.

(Reporting by Gopal Sharma)

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