Rescuers dig through snow for bodies of missing French, Nepalese mountaineers

Rescuers were digging through snow on a Himalayan peak in Nepal on Tuesday looking for the bodies of French and Nepalese climbers missing since last week after an avalanche buried them.

A rescue team gave up hope on Monday that the seven French and seven Nepalese climbers would be found alive.

"Our team has started digging through the snow left by the avalanche looking for the bodies," Prakash Adhikari of the Himalayan Rescue Association said Tuesday.

The team of 17 rescuers has set up camp below the area hit by the avalanche. The Royal Nepalese Army was also on standby and would be available to help out, he said.

Rescuers were sent to the 6,981-meter (22,900-foot) Kang Guru in northwestern Nepal to search for the 14 climbers missing since Wednesday after heavy snowfall hit the Himalayas. They said the climbers had been swept away and buried by the avalanche.

Bad weather delayed the operation and the first rescue team only reached the base camp by helicopter on Sunday.

Eleven Nepalese porters and Sherpa guides were part of the climbing team. Four of them managed to return safely to Pokhara, a town about 200 kilometers (125 miles) west of the capital, Katmandu.

One of the survivors returned to the mountain on Sunday to help search for the missing mountaineers, AP reported. V.A.

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