Search suspended for three missing French climbers in Nepal

·1-min read
Rescuers have suspended their hunt for three French climbers missing in the Himalayas after an avalanche (AFP/-)

Rescuers on Wednesday suspended their hunt for three French climbers missing in the Himalayas after an avalanche, with little hope of finding the men alive when the search resumes later this week.

The group were attempting to scale Mingbo Eiger, a 6,000-metre (19,700-feet) peak near Mount Everest in Nepal, and were last heard from via satellite phone from their camp eight days ago.

Bad weather has hampered efforts to locate the men and Ang Norbu Sherpa, a member of the search and rescue team, said the area could have been buried in a depth of snow the size of a five-storey building.

"As we could not make any progress in tracing the missing climbers, we have decided to stop the search operation," he told AFP on Tuesday.

"We will continue the search after three or four days."

The three young climbers -- Thomas Arfi, Louis Pachoud and Gabriel Miloche -- were part of an eight-strong expedition. They had split into two groups to tackle different summits.

The French Federation of Alpine and Mountain Clubs (FFCAM) had already conceded on Monday that the chances of finding the trio were "practically zero".

It said the men appeared to have abandoned their summit attempt and turned back when the avalanche hit, with rescuers earlier locating bags and equipment belonging to the team.

Climbers have started returning to Nepal after the coronavirus pandemic forced a complete shutdown of its mountaineering industry last year and devastated the tourism-dependent economy.

The Himalayan nation of 30 million people re-opened to tourists and scrapped quarantine requirements for vaccinated foreigners in September.

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