(KATHMANDU, Nepal) — The first group of survivors from an earthquake-triggered avalanche that swept through the Mount Everest base camp were flown to Nepal’s capital on Sunday and taken to hospitals. None appeared to have life-threatening injuries.
At least 17 people were killed when Saturday’s avalanche, set off by the massive earthquake that struck Nepal, obliterated part of the rocky village of nylon tents, where dozens of teams were training and acclimatizing themselves to higher altitudes as they prepared to make summit attempts in the next few weeks.
Twenty-two of the most seriously injured had already been taken by helicopter for treatment in the village of Pheriche, the location of the nearest medical facility. But bad weather and communications were hampering more helicopter flights, said Ang Tshering of the Nepal Mountaineering Association.
Later Sunday, a plane carrying 15 injured people arrived in the capital, Kathmandu, from Lukla, home of the closest airport to Mount Everest. Officials refused to provide details on their conditions, but most appeared to have broken bones or other treatable injuries.
Of those evacuated, 12 were Nepalese Sherpas. There was also one person each from China, South Korea and Japan.
The Sherpa survivors said they feared that many more people could be dead on Everest.
Pemba Sherpa, a 43-year-old guide with the right side of his face bandaged, was surprised he had survived.
He rushed from his tent when the earthquake hit Saturday and was standing in the open when “I heard a big noise, and the next thing I know I was swept away by the snow,” he said. “I must have been swept almost 200 meters (yards).”
Later, he regained consciousness. “I was in a tent surrounded by some foreigners. I did not know what happened or where I was,” he said after being taken to Kathmandu Medical College Hospital.
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