Two missing as Everest claims third fatality in 3 days

KATHMANDU/SYDNEY • An Indian mountaineer has died while descending from the summit of Mount Everest, in the third fatality on the world's tallest mountain in as many days since climbing resumed after last year's avalanche tragedy at Base Camp.

Mr Subash Paul, 43, who climbed the mountain on Saturday, died the next day due to exhaustion, Mr Wangchu Sherpa of the Trekking Camp Nepal company said yesterday.

Mr Paul was among four Indians who lost contact with operators on Saturday afternoon, said Mr Loben Sherpa of Trekking Camp Nepal, which organised their expedition to Mount Everest.

Expedition officials made contact with him and teammate Sunita Hazra on Sunday and helped them descend to Camp 3, but the whereabouts of the remaining two climbers are still unknown.

"He died while the guides were bringing him down," Mr Loben Sherpa said. "We have sent a helicopter to bring Sunita back. We still don't have any news on the missing two."

An Australian woman and a Dutch national have also died since Friday due to altitude sickness in the notorious "death zone" where the air is so thin that only the fittest can survive without supplementary oxygen.

Hiking officials and climbing veterans say the deaths raise questions about the preparations and safety standards of some climbing operators, with cut-price local companies competing for business as international outfits scale back operations.

This year's Everest campaign has been hit by high winds on some days when climbers had been counting on the weather "window" to open, to make their summit bids before the monsoon sweeps in next month.

Expedition organisers were assembling a rescue team yesterday to retrieve the bodies of Australian university lecturer Maria Strydom and Dutch climber Eric Ary Arnold. Ms Strydom died before reaching the summit on Saturday, one day after Mr Arnold died after reaching the peak.

While fatalities are not unusual, there are fears the latest casualties could again hit mountaineering in the country.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 24, 2016, with the headline 'Two missing as Everest claims third fatality in 3 days'. Print Edition | Subscribe