Five tourists die in storm on Mount Elbrus, 14 others rescued

During the search and rescue operation, 14 people were found and delivered to doctors, of whom 11 were hospitalized. Five tourists died. Three of the victims are residents of St. Petersburg, Yakutsk and Ekaterinburg. 

The bodies of three climbers, who died while ascending the Mount of Elbrus, will be lowered from the mountain on Friday, September 24, a source in emergency services told TASS.

"During the day on Friday, rescuers will begin lowering the bodies of three dead climbers from Elbrus," the source told the agency. 

A group of 19 climbers, while staying at an altitude of 5,400 meters on Mount Elbrus, requested help from rescuers on the evening of September 23 due to bad weather conditions. The group initially consisted of 23 people, but four refused to ascend. The climbers registered their route in advance with the Russian Emergencies Ministry. 

A powerful snow storm broke out on the mountain the  with gusts of wind reaching 40-70 meters per second and temperatures of -20 Centigrade. Due to extreme weather conditions, visibility was limited to only one meter. As many as 69 specialists were involved in search and rescue activities. 

According to the press service of the Ministry of Emergency Situations of Kabardino-Balkaria, at 2.45 am the operation on Elbrus was completed: 14 people were saved, they were evacuated to the Azau meadow on snow groomers, and the injured were provided medical assistance.

Here is what happened, according to one of the survivors: 

During the ascent, one of the tourists felt sick (after a while she died). The guide decided to return to the base with the woman, while other members of the group continued the ascend. A quarter of an hour later, the pressure dropped sharply, the wind started blowing upwards, a storm began, and visibility dropped dramatically.

The tourists turned back, but one of the men in the group broke his leg, which slowed the whole group down. Two more people died of hypothermia. Two others lost consciousness and were evacuated to the Garabashi station, but they also died.

The condition of eleven hospitalized climbers is satisfactory, Angela Teunova, a doctor of the hospital, to which the survivors were taken, said. 

According to her, the tourists were delivered to the hospital at about 03:00-04:00 Moscow time with injuries of varying severity. 

"Three of them had with general hypothermia and were hospitalized in the therapeutic department, eight others with varying degrees of frostbite were admitted to the burn department, and one patient with a leg fractured leg was hospitalized in the trauma department," she said.

The doctor also said that all the hospitalised tourists remain in satisfactory condition. Those who were admitted to the hospital with frostbite of lower extremities are unable to walk on their own yet, but "for most of them, the prognosis is favorable."