At least 22 climbers have died near the base camp of Mt Everest where hundreds of climbers, including many foreigners, are stranded after avalanches triggered by Nepal's massive earthquake slammed into a part of the camp on the world's highest peak.
"We have confirmed reports of 22 deaths and 62 injured," informed tourism ministry spokesperson Mohan Krishna Sapkota said.
Powerful aftershocks rocsked Nepal Sunday, triggering fresh avalanches at the Everest base camp. Climbers reported that the aftershock caused more avalanches at Mount Everest, just after helicopters airlifted to safety those injured when a wall of snow hit the base camp on Saturday.
"There are over 200 missing. But there is no confirmation on how many could buried under snow in the avalanche or making their way back down on their own," Sapkota added. Foreign adventurers, hikers and guides at the base camp went missing when the avalanche swept down the Everest.
While 17 people were killed at the base camp, five more casualties were reported on Sunday from areas below the base camp, home ministry officials said.
Google executive Dan Fredinburg was among the handful of victims to have been identified so far.
He was with several colleagues who survived the tragedy, Lawrence You, director of privacy at Google, said in a blog post."Tents have been blown away," Gelu Sherpa, who was at the camp when disaster struck, said, adding, "There is a lot of confusion on the mountain and the toll will rise."
An injured person is loaded onto a rescue helicopter at Everest Base Camp. The bodies of those who perished lie under orange tents. (AFP Photo)
Twenty-two of the most seriously injured climbers were on Sunday ferried by helicopters, including from the Indian Air Force, to Pheriche village, the nearest medical facility, though bad weather is hampering rescue and relief operations.
Some of the injured have also been air lifted to the capital.
Romanian climber Alex Gavan, who was at base camp, posted on his Twitter account: "All badly injured heli evacuated. Caring for those needing. want sleep."
There were more than 100 climbers also at camps 1 and 2 on Mount Everest, above the base camp, and all are reported safe, Nepal Mountaineering Association officials said on Sunday, adding it will take time before these people can be evacuated.
A mountaineering team of Indian Army who were hiking on Everest were also safe at the base camp (17,500 ft) and had on Saturday helped pull out 13 bodies, an Indian army spokesman said.
Another 54-year-old Indian, Ankur Bahl, attempting to climb all the highest peaks in the seven continents, is stuck at Camp II on Everest along with 11 other fellow climbers.
Bahl, part of the Madison Group, had moved to Camp 2 from Camp 1 on Saturday but is now stranded. He was attempting to climb all the highest peaks in the seven continents.
One Chinese climber was among the dead while tech-firm Google on Sunday reported the death of one of its California-based executive, Dan Fredinburg, in the avalanche on Everest.
US-based Madison Mountaineering said its base camp doctor, Marisa Eve Girawong, died in the avalanche at Everest.
Tourism ministry officials estimate that at least 1,000 climbers, including about 400 foreigners, had been at the base camp when Nepal's worst earthquake in 80 years on Saturday noon triggered the avalanche on Everest. The quake also shook neighbouring India and China.
The death toll has crossed 2,200-mark, of which nearly 1,000 are reported killed in Kathmandu valley alone, according to the home ministry.
The deadliest disaster in Everest's history comes almost exactly a year after an avalanche killed 16 sherpa guides, forcing the season to be cancelled, and as around 800 mountaineers were gathered at the start of the new season.
AFP's Nepal bureau chief Ammu Kannampilly, who was on assignment at base camp, reported that six helicopters had managed to reach the mountain on Sunday after the weather improved.
With inputs from agencies