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Signal received after disabled South Korean climber goes missing in Himalayas

Kim Hong-bin, who lost all his fingers to frostbite during an expedition 30 years ago, went missing earlier this week in an area about 25,900 feet above sea level. File Photo by Yonhap/EPA-EFE
Kim Hong-bin, who lost all his fingers to frostbite during an expedition 30 years ago, went missing earlier this week in an area about 25,900 feet above sea level. File Photo by Yonhap/EPA-EFE

July 22 (UPI) -- A satellite phone signal was picked up from a location near the Pakistan-China border after a disabled South Korean climber went missing in the Himalayas.

South Korea's Gwangju Accident Management Committee said that a signal from Kim Hong-bin's phone was detected in an area near 26,400-foot Broad Peak in the Karakoran Range at a point 23,000 feet above sea level, according to South Korean network SBS on Thursday.

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Kim, who lost all his fingers to frostbite during an expedition 30 years ago, went missing earlier this week in an area about 25,900 feet above sea level.

Kim had reached the summit of Broad Peak on Sunday, according to the Gwangju Alpine Federation.

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His disappearance Monday has placed authorities in South Korea on alert. Seoul requested an international rescue by satellite phone, but when climbers from Russia tried to reach Kim, a rope used in the attempt snapped and Kim descended farther, according to Yonhap.

"We will have to search around the point where the satellite phone signal was picked up," South Korean sources said, according to SBS. "There has been no phone contact with Kim and it has not been confirmed whether Captain Kim is at the presume location or whether it is the phone emitting the signal."

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South Korea's foreign ministry has asked China and Pakistan to deploy rescue teams, including search helicopters.

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A Pakistan Army Aviation Squadron is on standby, but the rescue team has not been dispatched due to bad weather, according to SBS.

Kim has been honored in Korea for his achievements. The climber has scaled 14 peaks in the Himalayas, according to a South Korean alpine cluby.

The climber is one of 44 people around the world to have scaled all 14 peaks.

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South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Kim delivered "pride and hope" to South Koreans amid COVID-19.

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