The death toll from a traffic jam of climbers on Mount Everest in the Himalayas, the world's highest summit, has risen to 10, officials said, as a record number of people tried to use a brief window of good weather to make it to the top.
The latest casualty on the mountain was identified as Robin Haynes Fisher, 44, of Britain, who died at 28,215 feet (8599m), authorities said.
Sherpa guides on the Nepali side of the mountain have complained that the traffic jam at the last stretch of the climb, called "the death zone," has become the most serious problem for climbers in this northern spring season.
"I have climbed Everest so many times, but this spring's traffic jam was the worst," said Tshering Jangbu Sherpa, a guide who summited Everest on May 22. "Many climbers who moved to the summit without extra supplement oxygen bottles suffered the most. They suffered because of the traffic jam, not because of wind and coldness."
He said that after his team became stuck in the line, he had to borrow a supplemental oxygen bottle because one member of his expedition was running out. "Otherwise, he could also die there in the high camp," he said.
The death toll for the 2019 climbing season on the 29,000-foot mountain currently stands at 17 overall, according to government tallies, the worst in decades, excluding major natural disasters such as avalanches and earthquakes.
Expedition organisers say the number of Everest hopefuls from the Nepal side has increased in recent years after China set a limit on climbers from the Tibetan side. Only two of the deaths were reported on the Tibetan side.
Nepal's Tourism Ministry issued permits to a record 381 climbers this season, each at a cost of about US$11,000. In 2018, 346 permits were granted.
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Among the climbers who have died are four Indians and one each from the United States, Ireland and Britain. Most of the deaths occurred at higher camps on Wednesday and Thursday, when Everest witnessed the worst traffic jam.