KATMANDU, Nepal -- A rescue team that climbed the world's tallest mountain for 11 hours in freezing winds was forced to leave an injured climber to die near the summit of Mount Everest, the Ministry of Tourism said Saturday.
The man's death will bring to five the number killed in an abortive assault by a 35-member Indian Army team on the 29,028-foot Himalayan peak, the highest in the world.
A rescue squad left the team's base camp and climbed through roaring wind and snow for 11 hours to reach the South Col, a gap on the peak's south face just 1,200 feet below the summit, where four members of an advance group had been stranded for four days.
Two members of the group, Capt. Vijaya Negi, 27, and Lt. Ranmeet Bakshi, 25, were already dead of exposure when the rescue squad reached them, the ministry said quoting radio reports from the base camp.
Another soldier, Maj. Jai Bahuguna, 37, died shortly after their arrival and the fourth man, Lt. Mub Rao, 25, was 'in a semi-conscious state with cold and injured hands and feet,' the ministry said.
The rescuers tried to bring Rao down to safety, but, 'Darkness engulfed the mountain and strong winds had developed so the rescuers left Rao on the South Col and returned to the advance base camp,' allowing him to die on the mountainside.
The four bodies were left at the South Col for later recovery. A fifth climber, Maj. K.I. Kumar, 40, fell 4,000 feet to his death Monday and hisbody was airlifted from the peak earlier this week.
The leader of the expedition, Brig. Gen. Jagjit Singh, has not decided whether to continue the climb.