Five climbers have died on Europe’s highest mountain after getting caught in a blizzard on Thursday.
One man and four women were killed at the summit of Mount Elbrus, in Russia’s Caucasus Mountains.
Another 18 amateur climbers along with their guides were rescued by a team of 69 rescuers in a major operation that lasted until the early hours of Friday morning, the Daily Mail reports.
Some of the climbers were left with frostbite and others had broken bones. After the rescue, 11 of them were taken to the hospital.
Vyacheslav Borosov, 39; Anna Makarova 32; Yelena Nesterova 32; Anastasia Zhigulina 40; and Irina Galchuk 32 were the victims.
Makarova was described as being in “perfect physical shape”, but died in the arms of mountain guide, Igor Dankov, after suddenly becoming unwell in the extreme conditions, 300ft from the 18,510ft peak of the mountain.
According to reports, Makarova asked Dankov to bring her down. He then gave her ammonia and tea, but she died an hour later.
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Two members of the group died from frostbite, while another lost consciousness. One member broke his leg while being taken down.
Denis Alimov, who organised guides for the climb, told TASS news agency: “Probably because of this, the group lost time, the weather deteriorated catastrophically… The group was divided into two parts: those who were faster and those who were slower.
“As they descended, two more people died in one of the groups. But the decision to split up was the right one, otherwise there might have been more casualties.”
The sudden bad weather had not been foreseen when the group of 23 climbers along with four professional guides set out to conquer the peak in Southern Russia, near the Georgian border.
An investigation has been launched into the deaths and the reasons for the ascent.