Three climbers returning from the summit of Mount Everest have died and two more are missing, according to a Nepalese mountaineering official.
The Wall Street Journal cited Mountaineering Department official Gyanendra Shrestha as saying Monday that the climbers — German doctor Eberhard Schaaf, 61, Nepal-born Canadian Shriya Shah, and South Korean mountaineer Song Won-bin, 44 — died Saturday while descending from the 29,029-foot summit.
Schaaf was believed to have suffered high altitude cerebral edema, the Associated Press reported.
The South Korean climber died at The Balcony, an area near the top of the mountain, Ang Tshering Sherpa of the Kathmandu-based Asian Trekking adventure agency told Agence France Presse.
According to the WSJ, the area above the last camp at South Col is nicknamed the "death zone" because of the steep icy slope, treacherous conditions and low oxygen level.
After two clear days to start the spring climbing season on Friday and Saturday, a windstorm swept the higher altitudes of the mountain by Saturday afternoon, Shrestha reportedly said.
As a result, he said: "There was a traffic jam on the mountain on Saturday. Climbers were still heading to the summit as late as 2:30 p.m. which is quite dangerous."
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Everest climbers are advised not to attempt to reach the summit after 11 a.m.
"With the traffic jam, climbers had a longer wait for their chance to go up the trail and spent too much time at higher altitude," Shrestha said.
"Many of them are believed to be carrying limited amount of oxygen not anticipating the extra time spent."
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