Weather & Natural Disasters

Everest Avalanche May Be Mountain's Deadliest Day Ever

Elizabeth Chuck
BSIP | Getty Images

Saturday's massive earthquake in Nepal killed at least 1,130 people, destroyed historic temples and sent an avalanche racing down Everest that could result in the mountain's deadliest day ever.

Varying death tolls were reported from Earth's tallest peak, but Reuters quoted an army spokesman as saying 18 bodies had been found by an Indian army mountaineering team. The number was not immediately confirmed by NBC News.

Previously, the highest number of deaths on a single day on Everest was 16. That day was a year and a week ago, on April 18, 2014, when an avalanche just above base camp killed 16 Nepali sherpas who were trying to carve out a route for foreign climbers.

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The avalanche sparked a debate about the high-risk and meager pay that sherpas work for: They make up to $5,000 a year in a country where the annual income is just over $700, according to Reuters.

While the mountain has taken the lives of many over the years, it's rare for so many people to die in one single incident there. Before 2014, the deadliest day for Everest was a 1996 blizzard that killed eight people. The storm was chronicled in the book "Into Thin Air," by Jon Krakauer.

Nepal's Tourism Ministry could only confirm 10 deaths in Saturday's avalanche, but because the avalanche had buried part of the base camp, the number was likely to rise.

April is the start of the climbing season and a popular time to scale the 29,035-foot mountain, when spring still offers sunshine. By the end of May, rain and clouds hover over it.

Saturday's quake, a 7.9-magnitude tremor, was centered 50 miles from the capital of Kathmandu.

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