2 foreign mountaineers die on the Everest

From the US and Switzerland respectively, they are the first fatalities of this year's season. On average around five climbers die every year on the world's highest peak.
2 foreign mountaineers die on the Everest

In this photograph taken on May 2, an helicopter flies over Khumbu glacier in the Mount Everest region of Solukhumbu district, some 140km northeast of Nepal's capital Kathmandu.

Two climbers, from the United States and Switzerland, have died on Mount Everest, the first fatalities of this year's season, expedition organizers in Nepal said on Thursday.

On average around five climbers die every year on the world's highest peak.

But in recent seasons, Everest has seen a surge in the number of climbers, leading to overcrowding that has been blamed for multiple deaths.

"Two climbers passed away on Wednesday," Mingma Sherpa of Seven Summit Treks said.

Swiss climber Abdul Waraich, 40, died near the summit after reaching the top and suffering exhaustion, said Chhang Dawa Sherpa from the same organization.

"We sent two additional Sherpas with oxygen and foods, unfortunately Sherpas couldn't save him," he said on Instagram.

American Puwei Liu, 55, reached the Hillary Step but was helped back down after he suffered snow blindness and exhaustion, organizers said.

He was able to reach Camp 4 "before he suddenly passed away" late on Wednesday, Chhang Dawa Sherpa said.

Eleven people died climbing the world's highest peak in 2019, with four deaths blamed on overcrowding.

On one day, 354 people were lined up to reach the top from Nepal's southern side and China's northern approach.

To ease the crowding Nepal's tourism ministry announced rules capping the number of people who can summit the mountain per window of suitable weather.

Expedition organizers have been told to send teams up the peak strictly in accordance with permit numbers or limit the number of climbers going up at one time.

Record number of permits 

The novel coronavirus pandemic wiped out last year's season, but Nepal has eased quarantine rules to attract more climbers.

Nepal has issued 408 climbing permits this season, topping the previous record of 381 in 2019.

A city of tents hosting more than 1,000 people — foreign climbers and support staff — has built up at the foot of Everest and the hotels along the trek are back in business.

The warmer weather that ushers in safer conditions for scaling Nepal's dangerous, snow-capped peaks has coincided with a deadly second wave of COVID-19 infections.

In recent weeks more than 30 sick climbers have been evacuated from base camp although only three have been confirmed as having had coronavirus.

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