Spanish, Japanese climbers perish on Himalayan peak

KATHMANDU (AFP) - Two climbers, a 67-year-old Japanese woman and a Spanish man, 50, and their Nepalese guide have died on Nepal's rugged Dhaulagiri mountain, expedition organisers said on Tuesday.

Chizuko Kono from Japan, Spain's Juanjo Garra and Nepalese guide Dawa Sherpa went missing on Friday as they attempted to climb the world's seventh highest peak, the organisers said.

Garra slipped and broke his ankle on the slope, organisers said, but it was not immediately clear what happened to Kono and her guide.

The trio, who were part of a larger group comprising 21 climbers, were confirmed dead by expedition organisers on Tuesday.

"On Friday afternoon Mr Garra slipped and broke his ankle and couldn't walk any more," Tika Gurung, the expedition organiser told AFP, saying that because it was late in the day an immediate rescue was not possible.

"His guide, Keshab Gurung, stayed with him overnight and then the helicopters tried to rescue him the next day but the altitude was too high," he said.

Kono perished at an altitude of approximately 7,700 metres along with her guide, Dawa Sherpa.

Gurung, who was guiding Spain's Garra on his quest to summit the 14 highest mountains in the world, is currently being treated for injuries in a Kathmandu hospital. The remaining climbers in the group are safe.

The avalanche-prone 8,167-metre Dhaulagiri has a high death rate for climbers, according to Himalayan Database, a statistical hub run by Kathmandu-based mountaineering expert Elizabeth Hawley.

Every May hundreds of climbers attempt to scale peaks in the Himalayas when weather conditions are at their best.

Eight people have died on Mount Everest, the world's tallest peak, this season while five climbers are feared dead on Kanchenjunga mountain, which is the world's third highest peak.

More than 300 people have died on Everest since it was first conquered by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1953.

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