Mount Everest Rescue Efforts After The Nepal Earthquake Are Underway, Amid Difficulties Caused By Aftershocks

As reports of the devastating scale of damage from Saturday's earthquake in Nepal continue to emerge, efforts to rescue those trapped beneath the rubble will prove both delicate and trying. Some of its most complicated attempts will be the rescue mission on Mount Everest, after the Nepal earthquake triggered an avalanche on the mountain.

The 7.8 magnitude earthquake set off an deadly avalanche on the world's highest peak that slammed into the Everest Base Camp, killing at least 17 (though some reports say 18), injuring 61 and leaving many more missing. There are some climbers reportedly trapped higher up the slope in and around Camps 1 and 2.

Those injured had to stay on the mountain overnight until early Sunday when clear skies allowed for helicopters to rescue climbers who sustained serious injuries from the base camp. Ang Tshering Sherpa of the Nepal Mountaineering Association said that 22 severely injured climbers were taken via helicopter to the nearest medical facility in Pheriche village. Later that day, 15 more injured were flown to Kathmandu, the Nepalese capital, by plane, 12 of them Sherpas and the other three from China, South Korea, and Japan, respectively.

But aftershocks from the earthquake, including a particularly strong one on Sunday, were hampering rescue efforts — though none quite on the scale of Saturday's massive quake. One climber, Carsten Lillelund Pedersen, told CNN:

We were sitting here in base camp, feeling the situation was getting better, and then suddenly, we felt the aftershock. And immediately after the shock, we hear avalanches from all the mountains around us.
ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images

The avalanche swept down through perilous Khumbu Icefall and hit the base camp, leaving climbers and guides alike running for their lives. Pemba Sherpa, one of the guides evacuated from Everest on Sunday, told the Associated Press:

I heard a big noise, and the next thing I know I was swept away by the snow. I must have been swept almost 200 meters.

Among the climbers killed in the avalanche is Google executive Dan Fredinburg, whose sister posted a photo on Instagram announcing that Fredinburg had died of a head injury on Saturday.

Taking place less than a year after an avalanche last year killed 13 Sherpas, Saturday's incident marked Everest's "single greatest loss of life in the mountain's deadly history," The Washington Post reported. The earthquake in Nepal killed more than 2,400 and injured some 5,900. Its aftershocks continued into Sunday, sending the already-traumatized Kathmandu population into further anguish as the government, overwhelmed as it is in the devastation's wake, struggled to provide relief.

Image: Getty Images