Nightly News   |  April 18, 2014

Avalanche Leads to Deadliest Day in Mt. Everest’s History

An avalanche that swept down the dangerous slopes of Mount Everest killed at least 13 Nepalese Sherpas.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> there is a disaster on mount everest . at least 12 are dead and even more missing after an avalanche, the deadliest day in the history of the world 's tall's peak. a team from nbc news happened to be there at the time of the avalanche. tonight, they are describing what they saw. we get our report tonight from our chief correspondent richard engel .

>> reporter: there was a time bodies were left on everest , not today.

>> i need more medical help.

>> reporter: dozens of climbers ventured up to the avalanche zone at 19,000 feet to search for victims, all shepras from nepal and recover their bodies. helicopters landed on ledges of ice and hovered dropping long lines to hoist out the injured and dead. rescue workers straddled cables as stretchers spun in the cold thin air. the disaster struck this morning as a few dozen walked here under huge walls of ice. the sherpas, expert climbers and guides were carrying food and tends preparing for foreign mountaineers that arrived for climbing season. but as the sherpas advanced, chunks of ice crushed down.

>> there is big pieces of ice as tall as five-story buildings.

>> reporter: he's an alpine guide on everest .

>> as the sun hits the big pieces of ice on the mountain, they start moving a little bit, and if you're in the wrong place at the wrong time, you have tragic accidents like today.

>> reporter: amazingly, this man survived, bruised by the crushing ice ball . nbc news television crews were on site preparing for a documentary for the discovery channel . all nbc news employees are safe. since everest was first conquered six decades ago, by edmond heldry and sherpa sherpa norgway, thousands of climbers have reached the summit and more than 200 have died trying. today's tragedy was the worst ever and not surprising that the dead were all sherpas. everest is dangerous, far more so for those who climb the mountain all the time.

>> there certainly is brave people. they are the most hard-working, nice people i ever met in my life and continue to do the job they are asked to do.

>> reporter: this does not appear to be mistakes made by the climbers. it took part in the most dangerous part of everest where the climbers have to walk underneath these heavy sheets of ice, and if one of those sheets breaks off, there is not much you can do.

>> terrible tragedy overseas. richard engel here with us tonight. thanks, as always.