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Two climbers die on Mount Everest: Report

This brings the total number of climbers killed on the world's highest peak this season to a record 15.

india Updated: May 26, 2006 12:44 IST

One of Australia's most experienced mountaineers and a German climber died near the summit of Mount Everest, bringing the total number of climbers killed on the world's highest peak this season to a record 15, the leader of their expedition said on Friday.

Australian Lincoln Hall, 50, reached the summit of Everest on Thursday but died as he was descending the mountain, team leader Alexander Abramov said in a statement posted on a website.

Another member of the same team, Thomas Weber from Germany, who was visually impaired, stopped 50 meters (165 feet) short of the summit after his sight failed, Abramov said.

The group, which included a Dutch guide and five sherpas, set off for the summit at midnight and Hall, with three of the sherpas, reached the peak at 9:00 am.

"Lincoln went in good speed and joyfully informed about his success on a portable radio set," Abramov said.

But as he descended the mountain, Hall began to lose coordination and collapsed.

Although he was still able to communicate with friends over the radio, Hall died about nine hours later as sherpas tried to bring him down the mountain, Abramov said.

He said the probable cause of death was high altitude cerebral oedema, a severe form of altitude sickness.

In the meantime, Weber collapsed after descending about 100 meters down the mountain.

"Tomas said, 'I am dying' and host consciousness. At 12:40 the death was verified," Abramov said.

Abramov said the loss of the two climbers brought to 15 the number of people killed trying to climb Everest this season.

He attributed the high number of deaths to unseasonably good weather, which has allowed more climbers to make summit attempts.

"Strangely enough, the reason for it became extremely good, windless weather," he said.

"The weather allowed plenty of climbers to reach the summit. In more severe conditions, they probably would have stopped the climb at lower heights," he said.

Hall was one of Australia's most well-known mountaineers and adventure authors.

He was a member of the first Australian team to climb Mount Everest in 1984, but that bid stopped short of the summit.

He also served as a director of the Australian Himalayan Foundation and was the author of several books, including "First Ascent" and "The Life of an Explorer", and numerous magazine articles.

His last assault on Everest was part ob an expedition that included 15-year-old Sydney boy Christopher Harris, who was trying to become the youngest person to climb the mountain.

Harris turned back short of the summit because of respiratory problems.

A long-time friend and fellow climber, Simon Balderstone, said Hall was a careful man who would not have taken undue risks.

"He was a world-class legendary climber. He had been climbing for 30 years," BalderstoneBalderstone told the national news agency AAP.

"He was a very responsible, careful, safety-conscious climber. He had everything in his favour," he said.

Hall and Weber were the fifth and six climbers to die on Everest in the past two weeks.