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Army team at Everest camp escapes devastation

Nepal earthquake triggers Everest avalanche, several killedNEW DELHI: A 34-member Indian Army expedition team was among those who miraculously escaped from an avalanche that struck the Everest base camp after the deadly Saturday earthquake. Another civilian expedition team of 11 mountaineers from Assam is also safe, according to initial reports.
Army sources here said their team assisted in evacuating 13 bodies of mountaineers who died in the avalanche. At least 18 people at the base camp have died in the avalanche, according to army information.

Army officials said information by Saturday evening was that all the dead were foreigners.

The army's Everest expedition team, led by Major R S Jamwal of 11 Jat has been at the base camp to acclimatize for their climb in mid-May. The Army expedition is to mark 50 years of the first Everest conquest by an Indian Army team under Captain M S Kohli.

Original plan is for the team to summit both Mount Everest and Mount Lhotse. They are also to bring down non-biodegradable mountaineering waste left on Everest by generation of climbers.

The mountaineering team had left India in early April. A senior army officer said there was no plan yet to call off the expedition.

Army sources said the team was practicing at the Khumbu Icefall, a little distance away from the Base Camp, when the avalanche struck. That may have miraculously saved the team.

When the team returned to the Base Camp they saw the destruction and joined the evacuation efforts. The team is believed to have confirmed 18 deaths in the Base Camp. The Indian army team helped bring down 13 of the bodies, officers said.

Reports also said an 11-member mountaineering team from Assam is reportedly safe. The team was at the Base Camp, and rapidly descended after the earthquake. "We are safe and are on our way down from the Base Camp," Pranay Bordoloi, one of the members of the team, told a news agency over phone. The team comprising nine climbers and two managers has been in the Base Camp since April 18.

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