At least nine climbers were killed when an avalanche destroyed their base camp on Mount Gurja Himal in Nepal, their expedition organiser said on Saturday. The deceased include five South Koreans.

Trekking Camp Nepal Managing Director Wangchu Sherpa said the Nepalese climbers who were killed have been identified as Chhiring Bhote and Lakpa Sangbu Bhote from Shankhuwasabha district, Natra Bahadur Chantel from Myagdi district, and Phurbu Bhote. Five South Korean climbers – belonging to the group Koreanway Gurja Himal Expedition 2018 – including team leader Kim Chang-ho, were killed in the avalanche on Friday evening, The Himalayan Times reported. The other South Korean climbers who died have been identified as Lee Jaehun, Rim Il-jin, Yoo Youngjik, and Jeong Joon-mo.

Mountaineer Kim Chang-ho was the first Korean to climb 14 peaks above 8,000 metres without using supplemental oxygen, The Himalayan Times reported.

The victims had begun scaling the mountain on October 7, PTI reported. Sherpa said they were waiting at the base camp at an altitude of 3,500 metres for fair weather, when a heavy snowstorm followed by a landslide killed them. A rescue helicopter was dispatched to the area on Saturday morning, but it is not clear if it found any survivors.