Spanish climbers lost in Nepal
KATHMANDU, Nepal -- A Spanish expedition to a Himalayan peak in Nepal has called off its search for five of its climbers.
The five have been missing for four days and are presumed dead in the Mount Everest region, climbers said on Saturday.
A helicopter searching for the climbers, who went missing on the 7,161-metre (23,494-feet) Mount Pumori in the Mount Everest region on Wednesday, found no trace of them.
Rinzi Sherpa, head of the hiking agency that handled the Spanish team, told Reuters that the rescue team could only see "a couple of brightly coloured back packs and signs of avalanches" on the mountain.
Edurne Pasaban, a Basque climber who returned from another mountain in west Nepal, said the remaining five members of the Spanish team had given up their attempt to climb the mountain and were on their way back to Kathmandu.
"They (the remaining members of the team) found no bodies," Pasaban said after a brief telephone conversation with a member of the Spanish team.
The missing Spanish climbers began their ascent on Tuesday night but there had been no word from them since they left.
It was the first major avalanche to hit an expedition in Nepal in the current autumn climbing season that runs from September to November.
Nepal, whose economy heavily relies on tourism, is a popular destination for thousands of Western hikers and mountain climbers who visit the impoverished nation annually to try to scale different peaks in the central Himalayas.
It has eight of the world's 14 highest mountains, including Mount Everest, in or on its borders with China and India.
Patagonia Mountain Agency
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