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Nepal Earthquake: 17 Bodies Found on Everest in Mountain's Deadliest Day Ever

17 bodies were found at an Everest base camp after the avalanche triggered by the earthquake, and more than 60 people were injured.
/ Source: NBC News

Saturday's massive earthquake in Nepal killed nearly than 2,000 people, destroyed historic temples and sent an avalanche racing down Everest in the mountain's deadliest day ever.

Ang Tshering Sherpa, President of the Nepal Mountaineering Association, told NBC News Sunday that 17 bodies have been recovered at Mount Everest base camp and 61 people were injured in the avalanche. At least one of the dead climbers was identified Saturdayas Google engineer Dan Fredinburg.

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.

Gallery: Hundreds Killed in Nepal Earthquake

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.

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

At this time of year, Everest base camp is "almost a small little city," with anywhere from 500 to 800 climbers and support staff there, said Eric Larsen, a polar adventurer and expedition guide who lives in Colorado.

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, and the summer monsoon season begins.

Temperatures this time of year can be a comfortable 60 degrees during the day or as cold as the teens.

The avalanche struck between the Khumbu Icefall — a treacherous, icy, snowy area — and base camp, flattening tents of climbers who were preparing to go to Everest's summit.

"Generally speaking, Everest base camp is a very safe place to be in the sense that you're usually out of trouble from avalanches," Larsen told NBC News. "Camping there, you can hear the rumbling ice below you if you're camped on the Khumbu glacier proper, but for the most part, it's often quite a relief to be there."

Limited communication on Everest made it difficult to get information about how many deaths were at base camp and how many were elsewhere on the mountain.

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


— Elizabeth Chuck