Chinese climber feared dead in Himalayas

KATHMANDU (AFP) - A Chinese climber is feared dead in the Himalayas after he slipped and fell while descending from the peak of the world's fifth-highest mountain, his trekking company announced on Monday.

Mr Liu Xiangyang, 46, has not been seen since last Tuesday when he was returning to base camp with a fellow Chinese climber and their Sherpa guides after scaling the 8,481m Makalu in the Himalayas.

Mr Mingma Sherpa, the owner of the Seven Summits company that organised the expedition, said Mr Liu tumbled down a steep, snow-covered incline from 8,300 metres on the north side of the mountain.

"He and the expedition leader Chunfeng Yang were returning after the successful summit. Four Sherpas searched for him on Wednesday and Thursday.

"We tried to find him by sending a helicopter but it could not land due to the bad weather," Mr Sherpa told AFP. "A week has passed now and the chances of his survival are very slim.".

Early this month, an elite Nepalese mountaineer responsible for setting up climbing routes on Mount Everest plunged to his death, the first loss of the summit season.

More than 3,000 people have climbed Everest, which straddles Nepal and China, since it was first conquered by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1953.

Every year hundreds more set out in April to attempt the climb when conditions are at their best.

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