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DEADLY AVALANCHE At least 12 dead, 4 missing in Mount Everest accident

KATMANDU, Nepal –  An avalanche swept down a climbing route on Mount Everest early Friday, killing at least 12 Nepalese guides and leaving four missing in the deadliest disaster on the world's highest peak.

The Sherpa guides had gone early in the morning to fix ropes for other climbers when the avalanche hit them at about 6:30 a.m., Nepal Tourism Ministry official Krishna Lamsal said from the base camp where he is monitoring rescue efforts.

An injured survivor told his relatives that the path up the mountain was unstable just before the avalanche. As soon as the avalanche hit, rescuers and climbers rushed to help.

Rescue workers pulled out 12 bodies from under mounds of snow and ice and were searching for the four missing guides, Lamsal said. Officials had earlier said three were missing.

The avalanche hit an area nicknamed the "popcorn field" for its bulging chucks of ice and is just below Camp 2, Ang Tshering of the Nepal Mountaineering Association said. Camp 2 sits at an elevation of 6,400 meters (21,000 feet) on the 8,850-meter (29,035-foot) mountain.

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