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A five-member South Korean expedition team and four Nepali guides were at the base camp of Mount Gurja when the storm struck, police said on Saturday.

The mountaineers were waiting in a camp for a fair window of weather to climb the 7,193-metre peak in western Nepal.

"All nine bodies have been found and the team are in the process of bringing them down", said Siddartha Gurung, a chopper pilot who is coordinating the retrieval mission.

The bodies of eight climbers - four South Koreans and four Nepali guides - were spotted among the wreckage of their camp by a rescue team early Saturday morning, but strong winds and icy conditions were hampering the search effort.

He said all the tents had been flattened, reduced to a tangled mess of tarpaulin and broken poles, and the climbers' bodies were scattered across a wide area, including some in a river bed some 500m away from the main camp.

"A helicopter has been sent for second rescue attempt but we are not sure whether it can get close to the incident site", said spokeswoman Mira Acharya.

The team leader was Kim...

The previous year, 16 Sherpas were killed on Everest when an avalanche swept through the Khumbu Icefall.

Wangchu Sherpa, managing director of Trekking Camp Nepal, who organised the expedition, said they raised the alarm after they had not heard from the South Korean team for almost 24 hours.

A sixth South Korean climber was staying at a village lower in the valley when the storm hit, after being forced to a lower altitude by health problems.

"We received a phone call from the Trekking Camp Nepal on Friday that the team at the base camp was out of contact", said Meera Acharya, director at the Department of Tourism, which issues climbing permits.

The incident involves the largest group to be hit by a climbing accident in Nepal in two years. The deceased include five South Koreans.

The highest peak in the range is the Dhaulagiri I, the seventh highest mountain in the world at 26,795 feet above sea level.

Kim Chang-ho, who climbed the 14 highest mountains in the world in the fastest time in 2013, was one of the climbers who died.


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