Six climbers die while scaling Russian volcano; inclement weather delays rescue

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At least six people have died while climbing the Klyuchevskaya Sopka volcano— Eurasia’s highest active volcano— in eastern Russia’s Kamchatka region.

The six were among a crew of 12 people, including two guides, who on Tuesday set off to scale the 4,754-metre (15,597 ft) volcano. However, on Saturday, some of the group fell to their death at almost 4,200 meters, while the rest are stranded, Reuters reported citing local officials.

One of the guides reportedly broke his leg, while the condition of the remaining climbers is unknown. All of them are Russian nationals.

A search and rescue team was dispatched on Sunday, but strong winds prevented their helicopter from landing.

“They were scheduled to land at an altitude of 3,300 metres, but due to gale force winds at 30 metres per second (67 miles per hour), they failed to do so, although two attempts were made a few hours apart,” the rescuers were quoted as saying.

A representative from the local civil defence authority, Tatyana Yukhmanova, told Reuters that the rescuers will try to reach the group again on Sunday provided the weather is conducive enough for a chopper to land.

Klyuchevskaya Sopka is part of the natural Volcanoes of Kamchatka Unesco World heritage site. It is the tallest of over 160 volcanoes whose snowy peaks tower over Russia’s Kamchatka peninsula.

The mountain, which is composed of mounds of volcanic rocks mixed with snow and ice, is believed to be hazardous to climbers due to its altitude and the risk of volcanic eruption.

Notably, the volcano is considered sacred by some indigenous communities.

(With inputs from agencies)

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