Sherpa climbers aided by helicopters resumed a search on Saturday for four missing guides after an ice avalanche swept the lower slopes of Mount Everest, killing at least 12 in the deadliest accident on the world's highest mountain.
Climbers declared a four-day halt to efforts to scale the 8,848-metre (29,029-ft) summit and, while some decided to abandon their mission, others said they would go ahead after talking to their Nepali guides.
The Himalayan Guides, a Nepali hiking group, said six of its sherpas had gone ahead of climbers they were accompanying in order to fix ropes and crack snow and ice to carve out a route, when they were caught in the avalanche and died.
"We have two helicopters stand by in the area and will start looking for those who are still missing. Many of them have already been rescued," Nepali Army spokesman Brig. Gen. Jagdish Chandra Pokharel told Reuters.
At least 12 Nepali mountaineering guides have been killed after an avalanche swept down a slope of Mount Everest, a tourism ministry official said.
The avalanche is the deadliest in eight years and hit the most popular route to the mountain's peak.
Three guides were injured and up to five people are missing in the first major avalanche on Mount Everest this climbing season.
After an avalanche swept down a slope of Mount Everest killing at least nine mountaineers, helicopters and food have been sent to base camp to take away the dead and help with rescue efforts.
Some mountaineers remain missing on the mountain.
Footage from NBC News at Mount Everest:
An avalanche that swept down a slope of Mount Everest at the beginning of the main climbing season, has killed nine Nepali mountaineering guides, a Tourism Ministry official said.
The avalanche hit the most popular route to the mountain's peak and three Nepali guides were injured and some people may be missing, Tilak Ram Pandey, an official at the ministry's mountaineering department said.
Madhusudan Burlakoti, a senior official at the ministry, said helicopters and rescuers on foot had been sent to the site.
Six local guides have been killed and nine more are missing after an avalanche swept a route used to scale the world's highest peak, a Nepalese tourism official said.
The avalanche hit just below Mount Everest Camp 2 around 6.30am local time, Krishna Lamsal said.
He added that four bodies have been recovered and rescuers are digging two more out of the snow. Nine other Sherpa guides are unaccounted for and believed to be buried in the snow.
All those killed and missing had gone early in the morning to the area to fix ropes for climbers along the route to the 29,000ft summit.
Hundreds of climbers and guides have gathered at the base camp, gearing up for their final attempt to scale Everest early next month when weather conditions get favourable.
Up to five climbers are feared missing after an avalanche swept the slopes of Mount Everest and hit a route used to scale the world's highest peak.
The avalanche hit the area just below Camp 2, according to Nepal Tourism Ministry official Madhu Sudan Burlakoti.
Rescuers and fellow climbers at the base camp are heading to the area to help, and a helicopter is on the way from Katmandu.
Ang Tshering of the Nepal Mountaineering Association said four or five climbers are believed to have been buried and more injured by the avalanche.
The Nepalese government plans to open an office at Mount Everest base camp in a bid to regulate attempts on the summit more closely, the BBC reports.
The move follows a series of embarrassing episodes on the world's tallest mountain, including a fight between climbers and local sherpas in April.
Officials also plan to monitor "bizarre" record attempts, believing that some feats "don't bode well for the dignity of Everest".
"These days we see people trying to make bizarre records like, for instance, standing on their head or taking off their clothes while on the summit," said Ang Tshering Sherpa, a member of the committee that recommended the new rules.
Further restrictions on littering and helicopter flights close to the mountain are also expected.
An 80-year-old Japanese mountain climber has received a hero's welcome in Kathmandu after becoming the oldest person ever to reach the summit of Mount Everest.
Yuichiro Miura, who has undergone heart surgery four times, was greeted with garlands of flowers and a press pack in the Nepalese capital after reaching the summit late on Thursday.
"This is the greatest feeling in the world," he told family members and supporters gathered in Tokyo, speaking from the summit by satellite phone.
"I never thought I'd get to the summit of Everest at the age of 80. It was the best feeling to get here, but now I'm completely exhausted."
Miura comes from a dynasty of veteran adventurers in Japan, his father having famously skied down Mont Blanc at the age of 99.
An 80-year-old Japanese mountaineer has become the oldest man to reach the top of Mount Everest.
Yuichiro Miura, who also conquered the 29,035-foot (8,850m) peak when he was 70 and 75, reached the summit at 9:05 a.m. local time Thursday, according to his support team. Miura and his son Gota called them from the summit to report the news.
"This is the world's best feeling," Miura said. "I'm also totally exhausted."
The previous oldest man to reach the summit was Nepal's Min Bahadur Sherchan, who accomplished the feat at age 76 in 2008, just a day before Miura reached the top at age 75.
Sherchan, now 81, is preparing for his own attempt on the summit next week, meaning Miura's record may not last long.
A British climber has told how he thought he was going to die when an argument broke out on the world's highest mountain.
Photographer Jonathan Griffith said he and two friends were attacked by up to 150 of the Nepalese guides as they made their way to a camp on Everest.
He told The Sun that he and experienced climbers Simone Moro, 45, from Italy, and Swiss national Ueli Steck, 36, were left bruised and cut after the gang kicked, punched and threw rocks at them.
The three were only saved when a group of Western climbers intervened, he added.
He said: "They didn't want to talk, they wanted to finish us off.
"They picked up big rocks off the glaciers and started throwing them at us."
Mr Griffith, who is from London but now lives in Chamonix, France, claimed the argument started when an angry Sherpa leader confronted the trio and accused them of injuring one of his men, who was securing ropes on the mountain for another expedition.