Islamabad: A Pakistani climber was killed and Italian and Pakistani members of the same expedition were injured after being caught in an avalanche on a mountain in remote northern Pakistan, a mountaineering group said Tuesday. Pakistan's Alpine Club said the incident took place Monday when four Italian and three Pakistani mountaineers were descending a peak in the Ishkoman Valley.
Pakistan's military was dispatching a helicopter to rescue the climbers, who have multiple injuries, it said. The four Italian climbers involved are expedition leader Tarcisio Bellò, Luca Morellato, David Bergamin and Tino Toldo. Italian Ambassador Stefano Pontecorvo confirmed Monday's incident happened in the northern district of Ghizar, but gave no further details.
The Alpine Club statement said the details involving the incident were still sketchy. In a separate incident Monday, two Chinese mountaineers have been reported missing in another area in northern Pakistan, said Karrar Haidri, secretary of the Alpine Club. He said Pakistani authorities were trying to dispatch a helicopter to trace and rescue them.
Haidri said he was confident that the body of the Pakistani mountaineer and injured Italian and Pakistani mountaineers would be brought to the base camp by helicopter and that all arrangements were in place to send them to a nearby hospital. "I am sure the army helicopter will fly today despite harsh weather," he told The Associated Press.
Earlier, a Pakistani tour operator who arranged the expedition, Ashraf Aman, said volunteers from the area were trying to reach the exact area where the stranded mountaineers were waiting for the help. Mountaineers from across the world travel to Pakistan every year to try scaling its high northern mountain ranges. Harsh weather and conditions often prove a test for the most experienced of climbers.
Earlier this year, two European climbers -Italian Daniele Nardi and Briton Tom Ballard - were killed during bad winter weather on Nanga Parbat, which is the world's ninth-tallest mountain at 8,126 meters (26,660 feet). Nardi, from near Rome, had attempted to scale Nanga Parbat in winter several times. Ballard's disappearance hit his homeland particularly hard as he is the son of Alison Hargreaves, the first woman to scale Mount Everest alone. She died at age 33 descending the summit of K2.
- By AP