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Nepal Earthquake: Stranded Mount Everest Climbers Airlifted to Base Camp

At least 17 people — including three Americans — died on Mount Everest after a powerful earthquake set off a massive avalanche.
/ Source: NBC News

Clear weather helped rescue helicopters airlift stranded climbers, two by two, down to Mount Everest base camp after a deadly avalanche left them trapped for two days at high altitudes.

At least 17 people — including three Americans — died on the world's highest peak after a powerful earthquake set off a massive avalanche. At least 61 people were injured.

Belgian climber Jelle Veyt, 29, said on Twitter that helicopters were starting evacuate people from Camps 1 and 2 — which are at altitudes of more than 20,000 feet — "all morning."

"Hoping for more clear weather," he said.

Romanian climber Alex Gavan said on Twitter that three helicopters had managed to reach those camps, which each helicopter only able to carry two climbers apiece due to thin air.

Garrett Madison was able to descend to base camp from Camp 1 on Monday and hoped to get off Mount Everest as soon as possible.

"The climbers are doing O.K.," he told the TODAY show. "It’s extremely important that we get off here, the route from base camp to Camp 1 was completely destroyed by the earthquake and the avalanches that came down and the aftershocks have created more danger."

Documentary filmmaker Michael Churton was with four other colleagues at the base camp at 17,500 feet ascent when the earthquake struck, sending tons of ice and snow down the mountain.

"I think we were fortunate, because the climbers, the four of us that were there, we're not climbers and so the climbers had already gone up to Camp One or Camp Two," he told Reuters. "They were at one of them, and apparently like there was no damage up there. They didn't even know there was an earthquake. So they were safe up there. Had there been another 19 people just hanging out, milling around, it could have been a lot worse."

— Cassandra Vinograd

Reuters contributed to this report.