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By Gopal Sharma
KATHMANDU, Sept 24 Italian climbers Christian
Gobbi and Silvio Mondinelli on Monday told of their lucky
survival after being caught in an avalanche that killed at least
11 people on a Himalayan peak in Nepal in the early hours of
Gobbi and Mondinelli were sleeping in their tent when they
heard a strange sound followed by strong gusts of wind. A few
seconds later snow flooded their tent and sent it tumbling down
a mountain slope.
Emerging from their tent, all they could see were torn
pieces of tents and stray boots after a crushing wall of snow
destroyed their camp. Dozens of climbers had been sheltering
just below the peak of the 8,163 metre (26,781 feet) Mount
"We went down with the tent and stopped about 250 metres
(820 feet) below," Gobbi, 42, told Reuters after being rescued
by helicopter and flown to the Nepali capital, Kathmandu, on
Monday. "We were very lucky that nothing happened to us, but we
had lost our boots, gloves and headlight.
"After about an hour we discovered one of our Italian team
members and a very strong sherpa guide had died in the snow,"
Gobbi said, sitting on a couch in a Kathmandu hotel.
Mondinelli, 54, celebrated for his rare feat of climbing all
14 of the world's peaks above 8,000 metres, was on his third
ascent of Manaslu, which straddles Nepal's border with Tibet.
"We all screamed and looked for survivors," he said.
Gobbi added: "We found somebody's boots, put them on and
Nepali rescue helicopters halted their search on Monday for
three foreign climbers who were still missing after the
avalanche hit the camp.
The three missing climbers are believed to be two French
nationals and a Canadian, deputy superintendent of police
Basanta Bahadur Kunwar said.
Seven French climbers were among the 11 victims of the
avalanche that struck their camp on the world's eighth-highest
mountain. Two German climbers and one each from Spain and Nepal
"Everything looked destroyed at the site," said Nima Nuru
Sherpa, a tour operator who organised the expedition for the
French climbers and helped to fly their bodies back to Kathmandu
"We couldn't see any tents or any belongings of the
climbers," he told Reuters on his return.
Five people who were rescued were flown back from the
mountain's base camp to Kathmandu on Monday. Eight more
climbers, who were unhurt, stayed behind and were contemplating
continuing their climbs, Kunwar said.
Mount Manaslu, which towers alongside Mount Annapurna in
northwest Nepal, has been climbed by about 300 people since it
was first scaled by a Japanese team in 1956. With Sunday's
avalanche, the mountain has claimed more than 60 lives.
Sunday's avalanche was the deadliest such accident in the
country in nearly two decades. In 1995 at least 42 people were
killed in heavy snowfall and avalanches in the Mount Everest
region, the last major disaster.
(Editing by David Goodman)