Three people die coming down Mt. Everest

Posted at 7:32 AM, May 21, 2012
and last updated 2012-05-21 13:24:05-04

By Manesh Shrestha

KATHMANDU, Nepal (CNN) — Three people died while coming down the southern slope of the mountain during the weekend after reaching Mt. Everest’s 8848-meter (29,028 foot) summit, officials said.

The three have been identified as Ebehard Schaaf, 61, a German medical doctor; Sriya Shah, 33, a Nepali-born Canadian woman; and Song Wondin, a 44-year-old man from South Korea, according to officials of the tourism and civil aviation ministry and at the base of the mountain.

“Climbers climbing down the mountain have said that they have seen the body of the Korean,” said Tilakram Pandey, of the tourism and civil aviation ministry, by phone from the base of the mountain.

The Korean had earlier been reported as missing.

There are some reports of a Chinese and a Nepali missing as well but cannot be verified, according to Pandey.

The cause of the German’s death has been diagnosed as high-altitude cerebral edema, according to Ang Tshering Sherpa of Asian Trekking which organized his expedition.

Mountaineers often expend all their energy while ascending the mountain and do not think about energy needed to come down. “As a result, they become weak and suffer from altitude sickness,” Sherpa said.

Saturday was also windier than usual. On Saturday a 73-year old Japanese woman, Tamae Watanabe, had climbed the mountain from the northern side on the Tibet-China border to become the oldest woman on the summit.

Bal Krishna Ghimire, a spokesman of the tourism and civil aviation ministry, said that mountaineers began summiting the mountain from the south side this spring season only since Saturday, about 10 days later than usual, because of adverse weather conditions.

The spring mountaineering season, which lasts from March 1 to May 31, is the most popular season to climb the Himalayan peaks in Nepal.

With these three deaths the number of people killed on Everest this year has reached five, ministry official Dipendra Poudel said. Two Nepali sherpas died on the mountain earlier this month.

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