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Entries in Avalanche (5)

Monday
Sep242012

Californian Survives Avalanche That Kills at Least Nine in Nepal

Hemera/Thinkstock(LAMJUNG, Nepal) -- When a massive avalanche swept over a camp of sleeping mountain climbers on one of the highest peaks in the world, Glen Plake of California was one of the lucky ones.

At least nine people were killed in the avalanche and another six are missing, swept away and buried under tons of snow and ice on Sunday. Ten climbers survived, but many of them were injured.

Plake was on Nepal's Mount Manaslu, the world's eighth-tallest peak, when the avalanche struck about 4 a.m. It roared through a group of tents at Camp 3 where about two dozens climbers were sleeping.

"We won the lottery with this one," Plake's father, James Plake, told ABC News. "Glen does this kind of stuff all the time so we are always worried, but he called us instantly with this one, called Kimberly [wife], and said 'whatever they say on the news I am alive and I'm ok.'"

Other survivors describe a brief and terrifying few seconds, and then a darkness that slowly lifted to reveal a landscape of scattered bodies. The dawn brought a scene of mayhem.

Eric Simonson, owner of International Mountain Guides out of Washington state, had a party of campers that went to the rescue.

IMG's team at Camp 2 climbed 2,000-plus feet to help rescue survivors, who had lost most of their gear, including boots, on the frigid mountain. The avalanche struck at an altitude of 23,000 feet, just short of the 26,760-foot peak.

"Our guides were part of the team that responded to search for survivors and also evacuate the injured people," Simonson said. "They assisted locating and digging out the survivors and the remains of the dead and then also coordinating the helicopter flights."

Helicopters circled overhead searching for survivors or bodies.

"Our understanding is the avalanche was triggered by a large ice wall collapse," Simonson said. "In this case you have an ice wall weighing probably thousands of tons collapsing in a snowstorm that makes the snow move."

Simonson said the availability of "very powerful" AS350 B3 helicopters that can function in the thin air that high up the mountain was essential to saving more lives.

"They're quite remarkable," Simonson said. "Had this happened a year or two ago it would have been impossible to fly to the site of the avalanche."

"The helicopters were able to come in and evacuate the people directly from there, so they didn't have to find boots, clamp-ons, climbing gear or things they would have needed to climb down," Simonson said. "So that was fortuitous."

A total of 231 climbers and guides were on the mountain but not all were at the higher camps hit by the avalanche.

The avalanche came at the start of Nepal's autumn climbing season, when the end of the monsoon rains makes weather in the high Himalayas unpredictable.

IMG's team is safely back at the base camp and is trying to decide if they should try the climb again or call it quits, Simonson said. This was the first time a team from IMG has climbed Manaslu.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jul122012

Several Climbers Dead, Injured After Avalanche Strikes French Alps

Goodshoot/ThinkstockUPDATE: Four mountain climbers who were earlier believed missing are no longer being classified as such; two had canceled their climb and two had taken a different route to the summit, according to the French military. The death toll remains at nine.

(PARIS) -- At least nine climbers are dead and nine others injured after an avalanche struck Mont Maudit in the French Alps early Thursday morning, the BBC reports.  More are said to be missing.

Authorities were alerted to the avalanche at around 5:25 a.m. local time as two dozen or so climbers were scaling the mountain.

The climbers, who have not been identified, were reportedly roped together during their climb.  Those injured were taken to nearby hospitals to be treated.  Their conditions are not yet known.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Mar062012

Avalanche in Northeastern Afghanistan Kills 37

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- At least 37 people are dead after heavy snow triggered an avalanche in northeastern Afghanistan, officials say.

The tumbling snow struck a village in the Shekay district of Badakhshan province, according to the provincial governor's office.  Six others were also injured in the avalanche.

With most of the village now under snow, the governor says the death toll may increase.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Feb172012

Dutch Prince Critically Injured In Avalanche

Helene Wiesenhaan/WireImage/Getty Images(INNSBRUCK, Austria) -- The second son of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands is in intensive care with what sources in the Netherlands media say is a fractured skull, after he was swept up in an avalanche.

Prince Johan Friso of the Netherlands is in critical but stable condition at a hospital in Innsbruck, Austria, the Dutch government said Friday.  The government statement said that, “doctors treating him describe the prince’s condition as stable, but his life remains at risk.”

Prince Friso was skiing with three others in the Austrian resort of Lech when the avalanche hit around noon Friday.  The 43-year-old Prince and the rest of his party were skiing on unmarked slopes in an area on high alert for avalanches due to heavy snowfall.

The Austrian Press Agency reported that he was buried for 15 minutes. Prince Friso reportedly was unconscious when he was pulled from the snow, and had to be resuscitated. The three other skiers were not hurt.

Prince Friso is the manager of a private equity fund in London, where he lives with his wife and two children. He is not in line for the throne, because he married Mabel Wisse Smit without the government’s permission in 2004.

The Dutch government said the Queen was not involved in the accident. The mountain town of Lech in Austria is a favourite winter vacation spot for the Dutch royal family.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Feb132012

5-Year-Old Avalanche Survivor Released from Hospital

ARMEND NIMANI/AFP/Getty Images(RESTELICA, Kosovo) -- A 5-year-old girl rescued from an avalanche in Restelica, Kosovo, Saturday that killed her parents, her 2-year-old brother, her paternal grandparents, an aunt, and uncle has been released from the hospital.  The girl had been buried under 33 feet of snow for 10 hours.

A member of the search and rescue team said Amsela Reka was found in the arms of her mother in the snow-covered rubble of her home after hearing her voice and the ringing of a cell phone. Amsela’s mother was also holding Amsela's 2-year-old brother, who died with his mother.

The rescuers cheered and threw their arms in the air when Amsela was pulled from the snow dazed but alive and not seriously harmed.

The family was home when a mountain of snow crashed onto its remote village Saturday morning, covering 22 houses. The village had been cut off from much of the outside world after a month of snow. It took rescuers two and a half hours to reach Restelica, and another hour to dig to the part of town hit by the avalanche.     

Villagers had already been frantically digging through the 33 feet of snow, trying to reach any possible survivors.  Among the nine people reported dead were a married couple and their 17-year-old son.

Amsela, the sole survivor, was wrapped in blankets and rushed to a hospital. Doctors told ABC News she had second-degree cold burns on both hands. As Amsela was leaving the hospital Monday, a funeral was under way for her parents, grandparents, aunt and brother in their village of Restelica.

Searchers continued to look for the body of Amsela’s 19-year-old uncle, but more snowfall and the possibility of another avalanche impeded search efforts.  

Hundreds of people have died during Europe’s two-week-long deep freeze. The Balkans have been blanketed in snow, and many roads are impassable, cutting off remote villages from emergency services and supplies.

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