At least six dead in Everest avalanche

The last light of the day sets on Mount Everest as it rises behind Mount Nuptse as seen from Tengboche. Photo / AP
The last light of the day sets on Mount Everest as it rises behind Mount Nuptse as seen from Tengboche. Photo / AP

A deadly avalanche on Mount Everest is believed to have avoided any New Zealanders on the world's tallest mountain.

Six Nepalese guides are dead and nine other people - believed to also be Nepali - are missing, a Nepal tourism official told the Associated Press (AP).

The avalanche struck just below Camp 2 around 6.30am today local time (12.45pm NZT), Nepal Tourism Ministry spokesman Madhu Sudan Burlakoti said.

Rescuers, climbers from base camp and a helicopter from Kathmandu have headed to the area to help.

The avalanche swept through the area known as the "popcorn field'', 6400 meters above sea level, AP reported.

A spokesperson for New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said the ministry was aware of the avalanche reports.

"The New Zealand Honorary Consul in Kathmandu has been liaising with the local authorities and base camp companies.

"There are no indications at this stage that any New Zealanders have been affected by the avalanche. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade will continue to monitor this situation.''

The ministry had 69 New Zealanders registered as being in Nepal.

Wanaka-based Adventure Consultants' general manager Suze Kelly said the company had an expedition of climbers on Everest and were awaiting more information.

The expedition team should be safe at Everest Base Camp, however the company may have Sherpas higher up the mountain, she said.

"I'm just waiting on further updates to see if our teams are involved or not ... it is the time of year when they are stocking the camps higher on the mountain, so no one actually stays on the mountain.

"Our main team has just arrived at Base Camp, so they are all in Base Camp. But there are Sherpas ... who set-up camp with the loads that they carry.

"Other teams are on different schedules. There could be some teams who actually had some climbers on the mountain, but all our climbers are in Base Camp.''

New Zealand Mountain Guides Association chairman Steve Moffat said he was aware of New Zealanders being on the mountain, however they too were at Base Camp and weren't due to ascend the mountain for at least another week.

More than 4000 climbers had scaled Everest's summit since it was conquered by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1953. Hundreds of others had died in the attempt.

- additional reporting Nicholas Jones

- APNZ

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf02 at 18 Dec 2014 14:02:50 Processing Time: 445ms