US Soldiers Recount Harrowing Descent from Mt. Everest

Zzvet/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Harold Earls was standing on the world’s tallest peak amid a roaring snowstorm when his Nepali Sherpa guide plunged off a 7,000-foot drop.

The pair had just reached the summit of Mount Everest and started their descent early Tuesday when clouds rolled in and 65 mph winds carrying ice and snow slammed into them. The Sherpa, An Doja, had developed snow blindness from sharing his goggles with Earls, who lost his own from a gust of wind. They were on a narrow ledge trying to hold on to each other when Doja stumbled.

“I thought he was going to die,” Earls, 23, based in Fort Stewart, Ga., told ABC News Wednesday.

But the safety rope caught on a snow ridge that had accumulated along the overhang, leaving the Sherpa teetering off the edge.

That’s when Earls’ military training kicked in, he said. The active-duty basic infantry officer immediately dropped to his knee to grip the rope that held them both. He was then able to swing Doja to safety onto a lower ledge about 10 feet below.

“That’s what we learn in the military,” Earls said. “You don’t ever leave a soldier behind. It’s the same thing with Sherpa.”

After hours of treacherous hiking, Earls and Doja made it safely down to the foot of the Lhoste wall of the Everest massif, where Advanced Base Camp straddles the Nepal-Tibet border at 21,000 feet. Earls suffered frostbite on his toes, which were also bloody from the difficult trek down.

He also couldn’t quite shake the haunting sight of dead bodies scattered several thousands of feet below him when climbing the Second Step, the most infamous of three rocky steps -- steep sections of rock and ice -- of Everest. One body had left what looked like a pattern of snow angels when it tumbled down the northeast ridge.

“It left a really eerie feeling in my mind,” he said. “I saw that and I mean, honestly, I was scared.”

Since the 2016 climbing season began last month, three people have died and two others are missing after attempting to scale the 29,035-foot-high mountain. Rescue teams said there have been repeated calls of climbers suffering from altitude sickness, frostbite, falls and injuries.

"The most common cause for death on Everest is the altitude. There's not enough oxygen there," said Dan Stretch, a senior specialist in the operations department at Global Rescue, which has evacuated about 30 people this season so far. "The weather can change very quickly. It can be fine one minute and then force winds and heavy snow the next minute."

Everest was practically free of climbers the two previous years, after fatal avalanches that canceled expeditions. More than 4,000 climbers have reached the treacherous summit since 1953, when Everest was first scaled by New Zealand explorer Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay.

Earls climbed with Capt. Elyse Ping Medvigy, retired Staff Sgt. Chad Jukes, 32, of Ridgeway, Colo., as well as drone pilot and award-winning filmmaker Dave Ohlson for nonprofit organization U.S. Expeditions and Explorations (USX) to spread awareness on the everyday struggle of veterans experiencing post-traumatic stress and suicidal thoughts. Earls, the co-founder and president of USX, said the team and their Sherpas formed a special bond.

Earls said he felt particularly inspired by Jukes, a single leg amputee because of an IED in northern Iraq, and how the veteran appeared to climb Everest with ease.

“He’s probably the best climber out of all of us,” Earls said. “I just remember seeing him in front of me and, you know, I’m sucking wind and struggling real bad. But then I look up and see Chad with one leg and how much harder he has to work to get to the top than me or anyone else.”

The team, which climbed with supplemental oxygen, was eventually forced to split up with their respective Sherpas due to weather conditions. Earls and Ping Medvigy summited together, but she and her Sherpa were a few minutes ahead of the rest on the way down.

Ping Medvigy, 26, of Sebastopol, Calif., an active-duty field artillery officer stationed at Fort Carson, Colo. who enjoys high-altitude climbing, said the weather was best during the trek up. In addition to shedding light on PTSD within the armed forces, Ping Medvigy carried with her a photograph of two soldiers who died because of an IED while serving in her light infantry unit in Afghanistan. She had told their families she would take that photo to the top of the world in their honor.

“That was the whole point of the trip for me was to bring that picture for their families to the summit,” Ping Medvigy told ABC News. “I climb because I love it. And on this particular expedition, I had the opportunity to climb for something more than myself.”

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Vietnam's 'Queen of Rap' Gushes About Obama

Garry_Mirosh/iStock/Thinkstock(HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam) -- It was the last question President Obama was going take before concluding his historic three-day visit to America’s one-time foe, Vietnam.

The president was addressing convention hall full of Ho Chi Minh City’s most promising young leaders and was probably not expecting to beatbox in front of the crowd.

Suboi, 26, dubbed by some as Vietnam’s "Queen of Rap,” had not heard the president address a subject close to her heart: the role art and culture plays in the development of a nation.

As her hand shot up, it caught the president’s eye.

“I’m a rapper here from Saigon, Vietnam,” she said, and before long she was spitting verse to the president and the world.

“I might have looked very calm but I wasn’t,” Suboi told ABC News' Bob Woodruff shortly after her session with the president.

ABC News met up Suboi at the Saigon Saigon Bar at the legendary Caravelle Hotel, which used to house ABC News' Vietnam War-era bureau.

Suboi, whose real name is Hàng Lâm Trang Anh, opened up about being a rapper and part of the new Vietnam generation. Nearly 70 percent of the population in Vietnam was born after 1975, the end of the war.

“I want to raise the awareness of the Vietnamese artists and people,” Suboi said. “I feel there is wall between what Vietnamese people and people on the outside. They really have no idea what Vietnamese people are like, especially this young generation.”

Throughout his visit to Vietnam, Obama has been speaking out the importance the freedom of expression in order to keep a country innovating, especially in a country like Vietnam, where the Communist government frequently silences its critics.

Obama responded, “Imagine if at the time that rap was starting off that the government had said, 'No, because some of the things you say are offensive' or 'some of the lyrics are rude' or 'you’re cursing too much.'"

“That connection that we've seen now in hip-hop culture around the world wouldn’t exist. So, you’ve got to let people express themselves," Obama said.

“He is so down to earth,” Suboi said of Obama. ”You can see the most powerful man there ... and let the young generation ask him questions and he answers himself. We don’t usually see this in Vietnam.”

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Canadian Police Chase Famous Knife-Stealing Crow for Tampering With Crime Scene Evidence

Shawn Bergman(VANCOUVER) -- Tampering with crime scene evidence is a serious offense, but this culprit isn't fazed by his latest escapade.

We're talking about Canuck the Crow, a Canadian bird known for his frequent run-ins with police and long wrap sheet, which includes stealing knives and keys and dismantling police patrol car equipment.

"Canuck the Crow did pick up a knife at the scene of a shooting on Tuesday and began to fly away before it was chased by officers, flew about 20 or 30 feet and dropped it," the Vancouver Police Department confirmed to ABC in a statement Thursday.

Police say the knife was eventually retrieved and entered into evidence.

As for Canuck, who is easily identified by the tiny orange ankle bracelet around his left leg, police do not plan on charging him for tampering with evidence and evading law enforcement, but they want to warn him not to push his luck.

"It is not the first time the VPD has had an encounter with this same crow," the VPD statement pointed out.

The now-famous black bird as a huge Facebook fan base -- over 13,000 followers and counting.

"For some reason he loves living a double life. He's got a life with crows and a life with humans," Shawn Bergman, who calls himself Canuck's best friend, told ABC News.

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Obama to Make Historic First Visit to Hiroshima Friday

Official White House photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama will travel to Hiroshima Friday, becoming the first American president to visit the city where the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb during World War II.

The fact that an American president is visiting Hiroshima showcases the remarkable change in the United States' relationship with Japan, once considered an enemy of the U.S.

"The dropping of the atomic bomb, the ushering in of nuclear weapons was an inflection point in modern history," the president said Thursday. "It is something that all of us have had to deal with in one way or another."

He added: "The backdrop of a nuclear event remains something that, I think, presses on the back of our imaginations."

Obama, who will be accompanied by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, will lay a wreath at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial before making a statement reflecting on his visit.

The highly emotional visit will cap off the president’s five-day trip to Vietnam and Japan.

Obama has said he won’t apologize for President Harry Truman’s decision to launch the world’s first nuclear attack, but he will use the visit as an opportunity to make his case for ridding the world of nuclear weapons.

Earlier in the day, he will stop at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni to thank troops. After his stop in Hiroshima, the president returns to the U.S.

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Dramatic Video Shows Migrants Rescued from Sinking Ship

Italian Navy(LONDON) -- Dozens of migrants lost their lives Thursday in the third deadly shipwreck in the Mediterranean in as many days, Italian authorities have reported to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

More than 500 people are believed to have been rescued Thursday after the ship sank off the Libyan coast, an IOM spokesman told ABC News, saying overcrowding may have caused the sinking.

“It was a big boat with 500-something people,” IOM spokesman Joel Millman said. “Maybe they put too many people in there. We will know why it sank after we talk to survivors.”

Italian authorities told the intergovernmental organization that 30 people died, Millman added. Most of the migrants on the boat, which was traveling from Libya to Europe, are believed to be Moroccan, he said.

Another boat carrying hundreds sank in the Mediterranean Sea Wednesday, killing at least five, while around 562 people were saved.

In an interview with the BBC, the Italian captain, Francesco Iavazzo, said, "...I tried to keep the people calm, shouting to them: Please sit down, do not stand, do not move because the boat isn't stable. But fear is fear so the people were not listening basically."

At least 9,000 migrants have died in the Mediterranean since 2013, according to the IOM.

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President Obama, Japanese Prime Minister Abe Visit Holy Site After Awkward Encounter

Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images(ISE, Japan) — President Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited one of Japan's holiest sites Thursday, just a day after their awkward joint-press conference.

The president and prime minister strolled through the Ise-Jingu Shrine before meeting with other G7 leaders. The world leaders used shovels to plant trees on the grounds of the holy site.

It was a stark contrast to the icy reception President Obama received when he landed in Japan Wednesday.

Abe publicly lectured the president over the murder of a 20-year-old Japanese woman in Okinawa allegedly at the hands of a former U.S. Marine.

The president spent the rest of his days in meetings at the G7 summit, where leaders were expected to speak about terrorism, maritime security, and the global economy.

On Friday, Obama will travel to Hiroshima, becoming the first American president to visit the site where the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb during World War II.

"Our visit to Hiroshima will honor all of those who were lost in World War II and reaffirm our shared vision of a world without nuclear weapons, as well as highlight the extraordinary alliance that we have been able to forge over these many decades," the president said Wednesday.

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New Photographs of Prince William and Princess Kate Revealed

Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images(LONDON) -- Two new photographs of Prince William and Kate taken in mid-March in the gardens of Kensington Palace are now being seen for the first time.

The photos were commissioned privately by William, 33, and Kate, 34, and shot by Chris Jelf, the same photographer who captured the royal couple with their two children, Prince George and Princes Charlotte, for their 2015 Christmas message.

The newly-revealed photos of William and Kate were used to accompany thank you notes sent to well-wishers who sent the royal couple congratulations for their fifth wedding anniversary, which they celebrated on April 29.

The inscription inside the note reads, "The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were so touched that you took the trouble to write as you did on the occasion of their 5th Wedding Anniversary. It really was most thoughtful of you and Their Royal Highnesses send you their warmest thanks and best wishes."

A second photograph from the same set of photos taken by Jelf is a solo shot of the duchess. That photograph accompanied a letter of support from Kate to the International Children’s Palliative Care Network.

In her message, Duchess Kate wrote, “When families are confronted with the shattering news that their child has a life-limited condition, their world can fall apart. For those facing this awful reality access to hospice and palliative care services can transform their quality of life and help families make the most of the time they have together. I would like to thank the International Children’s Palliative Care Network membership for being the global advocate for children needing palliative care, and working to ensure that children and families across the world have a chance of accessing this vital lifeline."

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NASA's Expandable Fabric Space Habitat BEAM Hits a Snag

NASA TV(HOUSTON) — NASA's plan to inflate an expandable habitat for the first time in space hit a snag today when the room -- known as BEAM -- failed to completely inflate.

Thursday's test at the International Space Station has been postponed after NASA spent several hours attempting to pump air into BEAM, which is short for Bigelow Expandable Activity Module.

"Engineers are meeting at the Johnson Space Center in Houston to discuss a path forward for the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module," according to a NASA update. "They are evaluating data from the expansion that has occurred thus far. If the data supports a resumption of operations, another attempt to complete the module's expansion could come as early tomorrow."

BEAM is a first-of-its-kind inflatable habitat that was carried to the ISS on the SpaceX Dragon. Ahead of Thursday's inflation attempt, astronauts attached the room to the station's Tranquility module. BEAM has the capacity to inflate to roughly 10 feet in diameter and 13 feet in length, a NASA blog post explained.

The module is a key piece of technology that could be used on a future crewed mission to Mars.

"When we’re traveling to Mars or beyond, astronauts need habitats that are both durable and easy to transport and to set up. That’s where expandable technology comes in," a NASA blog post explained. The idea was first conceptualized by NASA in the 1990s and was built by Bigelow Aerospace.

If the BEAM module at the International Space Station is able to be properly inflated, astronauts will soon be able to step inside for several hours at a time to collect data and assess conditions inside the room. The experiment is scheduled to last for two years.

During that time, NASA plans to keep the airlock between BEAM and the space station closed.

Sensors inside BEAM monitor temperature and radiation changes, along with how it fares against potential orbital debris. If punctured, BEAM is designed to slowly deflate, ensuring that it doesn't pose a danger to the space station.

One final key part of BEAM: It's designed so astronauts should be able to easily pack it up when they're finished.

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Solar Impulse Pilot Snaps an Extreme Selfie Upon Crossing US

Christophe Chammartin/ SI2 via Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Solar Impulse pilot Bertrand Piccard snapped a sky-high selfie as he cruised toward Pennsylvania during the 13th leg of the plane's journey around the world.

The Swiss adventurer was able to memorialize his time in the cockpit by using what appears to be an extremely long selfie stick held outside the window of the solar-powered plane.

Piccard and Andre Borschberg have been taking turns flying the one-seater airplane, which is solely powered by the sun's energy.

The final American leg will include Borschberg flying from Pennsylvania and past the Statue of Liberty before landing in New York ahead of a grueling transatlantic flight.

Solar Impulse tends to take at least a few days at each stop to hold events and give the pilots time to switch off before the next leg.

Solar Impulse is able to fly day and night because of the solar energy is stored in batteries on the aircraft. The duo expect to complete their around-the-world journey this summer in Abu Dhabi. While the project is designed to raise awareness about clean energy, it's also provided some memorable personal moments.

Piccard, who spoke with ABC News from the cockpit of Solar Impulse on Wednesday, said his most memorable moment thus far as an explorer was when he was crossing the Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and San Francisco.

"I was in the middle of the ocean, in the middle of the night, alone in the plane and I was just really happy because this is the world I love," he said. "This is the world of exploration. You get out of your comfort zone, you explore the unknown. You are pushing the limits and you discover what you have inside of yourself."

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Winnie-the-Pooh Meets Queen Elizabeth and Prince George in New Children's Book

Disney(NEW YORK) — Winnie-the-Pooh, one of the most iconic children's characters of all time, is celebrating his 90th birthday and sharing it with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, who also turned 90 this year.

Everyone's favorite hungry bear makes his first trip to London in a new book titled Winnie-the-Pooh and the Royal Birthday.

It's the first time the beloved clumsy bear has met the U.K.'s beloved queen, and the queen's great-grandson, Prince George, makes a cameo appearance in the book as well.


The new book, which was released Wednesday, sees Pooh Bear trying to deliver a birthday gift to the monarch. He has a chance encounter with Queen Elizabeth outside Buckingham Palace with the queen’s sporting what else but her trusty handbag and trademark white gloves.

The queen is described in the book as "just as Queenly and smiley and wonderful as they had expected her to be.”

Prince George runs into Pooh and his pals while wearing a pair of blue shorts and a blue cardigan.

He's described in the book as "much younger than Christopher Robin and just as bouncy as Tigger," a reference to two other classic Winnie-the-Pooh characters. George, the future King of England, gets a red balloon in the book from Piglet and tickles Pooh's ears.

Winnie-the-Pooh, Christopher Robin, Eeyore and Piglet also explore the landmarks of London in a double-decker bus, see the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, ride the Tube (subway) and even visit the giant lions at Trafalgar Square

Pooh and his friends also find themselves at Harrods, “which Pooh found strangely familiar but he told himself he was being silly as this was surely his first visit to London."

A.A. Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh stories were based on a bear the author bought for his son, Christopher, at Harrods.

Disney, which owns the rights to Winnie-the-Pooh, has released an electronic book and companion electronic audio and video version narrated by Oscar-winning actor Jim Broadbent. Winnie-the-Pooh and the Royal Birthday was penned by Jane Riordan and illustrated by Mark Burgess, who also illustrated the 2009 authorized book Return to the Hundred Acre Wood (Winnie-the-Pooh).

As a child, then-Princess Elizabeth loved the tales of Winnie-the-Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore and Christopher Robin. The book and poems were dedicated to her when they were first published in 1926, the year of her birth.

The queen was also gifted a Christopher Robin china nursery set with hand-colored pictures of Christopher Robin, Pooh and friends as a child.

"Winnie-the-Pooh and the Royal Birthday" moved forward after its authors and Disney contacted Buckingham Palace. The queen said she was happy for the project to proceed, though neither she nor Buckingham Palace ever officially endorse such projects.

Disney is the parent company of ABC News.

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