A Gurkha Expedition Team who were attempting to climb Mount Everest have been rescued by helicopter from an impassable icefall after Nepal was devastated by an earthquake.
The Gurkha 200 Everest Expedition 2015 had joined forces with Robert Loomes and Co, from Stamford and Cambridge charity The Mountain Trust to send an English wrist watch to the summit of Mount Everest, to mark 200 years of the Gurkhas serving in the British Army. They were climbing Everest when they were affected by the earthquake, which has killed more than 3,200 people
Within the last few hours the Gurkha Expedition Team on Everest have been rescued and are safe at Everest Base Camp. The Team will remain there helping collect kit and assist with relief work.
The climbers were airlifted down to Base Camp by helicopter, but it could only take two passengers at a time, with over 100 people trapped in the mountain.
Climbing leader Captain Dick Gale, who was in Stamford to collect the wristwatches back in March, was tasked with uniting all the high altitude climbers who were above the avalanche. He organised them at Camp One, at 19,000ft yesterday (Sunday, April 26), where the Gurkha team were already well provisioned with supplies and they treated any minor injuries.
Now at Base Camp, the Gurkha team are throwing themselves into the much needed relief effort there. They have the unenviable task of digging crushed tents out of the snow and coordinating relief work on the mountain.
Our thoughts are with all those affected. This is a tragic situation for Nepal.Natasha Malcolm-Brown
In the last 24 hours The Mountain Trust has raised more than £6,500 and has been donated medical equipment worth more than $6m, after launching The Mountain Trust Emergency Relief Appeal for Nepal.
Communications Director from the Mountain Trust, Natasha Malcolm-Brown, who returned from Nepal only a few days ago said: “Our thoughts are with all those affected. This is a tragic situation for Nepal. Communications are unreliable and many phone and power lines are down. Sadly we suspect the death toll to continue to rise.”
The 7.8-magnitude quake struck just before midday on Friday (April 24), sending tremors through the Kathmandu Valley and the nearby city of Pokhara.
The majority of deaths were reported in Nepal, with deaths also being confirmed in India, Tibet, Bangladesh and the Nepal-China border.
The quake also set in motion an avalanche which swept the face of Mount Everest, killing at least 17 people and injuring 61, government officials said.
Several Britons are thought to be stranded on the world’s highest peak, with access to its base camp cut off.
The RAF is expected to deliver much-needed supplies and reinforcements to Nepal today as the rescue and relief effort continues.
The Foreign Office said it had not received reports of any Britons being killed or injured but embassy staff had assisted 200 people.
Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said: “There are several hundred British nationals in Nepal at this time of year and we expect that almost certainly some will have been caught up in the earthquakes. But at this moment we have no reports of any British nationals killed or injured.”
Mr Hammond added that damage to communications infrastructure was making it difficult to contact some people who may be in remote locations, meaning it could be some time before all the Britons in the region could be identified and accounted for.
He continued: “The Foreign Office is urgently deploying additional consular response teams from London and Delhi to reinforce our embassy staff and looking at what else we can do.”
The Department for International Development (DFID) also announced £5 million of humanitarian aid for Nepal.
It deployed a team of more than 60 search and rescue responders and medical experts as part of a cross-government surge to support the relief effort.
To make a donation to The Mountain Trust Emergency Relief Appeal visit the appeal website
Robert Loomes and Co. are to raffle one of the £4000 expedition wristwatches in aid of the Nepal disaster, £10 per ticket. Winning ticket to be drawn by Joanna Lumley on May 29 in London.
FURTHER READING: British watches to reach Everest summit.