A sudden storm claimed the lives of five climbers during the ascent of Mount Elbrus in Russia, relief said on Friday, one of the most serious tragedies to have hit Europe's highest peak in recent years.
We were able to save 14 people, they were evacuated (...) in tracked vehicles and taken care of by doctors.
Unfortunately, five people died,
”said the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations, on its Telegram account.
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Eleven of the survivors were hospitalized including two in intensive care, according to the Ministry of Health of Kabardino-Balkaria, region where the Elbrus is located.
The injured suffer in particular from frostbite.
On Thursday, a group of 19 climbers found themselves trapped at an altitude of more than 5,300 meters by a sudden deterioration in the weather.
After being alerted, the emergency services deployed 69 people and 16 vehicles.
Videos released by rescuers show them at night, supporting climbers staggering or pulling a stretcher, trudging through thick powder blown by strong winds.
The walkers were accompanied by four guides
The rescuers worked in the most difficult conditions.
The force of the wind reached between 40 / 70m per second, there was heavy snowfall and the temperature fell to minus 20 degrees,
”said the Ministry of Emergency Situations.
The rescue operation began on Thursday evening and lasted at least five hours, until 2:45 am local Friday (11:45 GMT Thursday).
The company Elbrus.Guide, which organized the climb, explained on its Instagram account that the group was supervised by four professional guides.
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On Thursday morning, on the way to the top, one of the participants felt bad, so much so that one of the guides turned back with her. It was then that the storm suddenly hit the mountain and the woman died shortly after in the arms of her attendant. Failing to succeed in reaching the emergency services, this guide went back down alone and was able to alert the authorities who organized the operation to save the 17 climbers still in the mountains. They attempted a descent but were slowed down by the weather conditions, then by an accident in which one of the climbers broke his leg. “
Two participants died of hypothermia
”, explains the tour operator, then “
during the descent two (other) participants lost consciousness and were carried to the Garabachi camp at 3900 meters where they died without having regained consciousness