MOSCOW, Sept 24 – Five climbers died after they got caught in a sudden snowstorm on Russia’s Mount Elbrus, the highest mountain in Europe, officials said.
The other 14 members of the party were rescued on the peak in the Caucasus Mountains in high winds and low visibility amid temperatures of minus -20 Celsius (-4 Fahrenheit), the regional emergency ministry said.
The group of Russian climbers sent out a mayday call just after 5 p.m. (1400 GMT) on Thursday, the ministry added. Eleven of the survivors were taken to hospital.
One woman fell ill and died in the arms of one of the guides, Denis Alimov, who helped organize the climb, told TASS news agency.
Another climber broke his leg as he was coming down and the party decided to split into three groups depending on who could go fastest, Alimov told TASS.
“As they descended, two more people died in one of the groups. But the decision to split up was the right one, otherwise there might have been more casualties.”
Guides with the group suffered frostbite and other injuries, Alimov was quoted as saying.
Mount Elbrus, which rises to 18,510 feet just north of the border with Georgia, is infamous for sudden changes in weather and climbing conditions.