Australian climber dies while descending from Everest summit

Dutch Climber Dies on Everest Descent
Dutch Climber Dies on Everest Descent

KATHMANDU/MELBOURNE, May 22 (Reuters) - A 34-year-old Australian woman has died while descending from the summit of Mount Everest, local officials in Kathmandu said on Sunday, the second death on the world's highest mountain in as many days.

The death of Maria Strydom on Saturday was also confirmed by Monash University in Melbourne, where she worked as a lecturer. Officials in Nepal said efforts were being made to take her body down from the mountain.

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The fatality was the second on Everest this year and could hit mountaineering in Nepal, where a massive quake last year killed at least 18 people at Everest Base Camp.

On Friday, Dutch climber Eric Ary Arnold died after reaching the summit of 8,850-meter (29,035 feet) Everest.

Strydom, part of the same group as Arnold, developed altitude sickness while descending from Camp Four, located at about 8,000 meters (26,246 feet), the Kathmandu-based company that organized her expedition said.

"We are waiting for the expedition leader and other climbers of the group to come down to base camp," said Pasang Phurba of the Seven Summits Treks.

"We will then discuss (retrieving) her body. It cannot be left to lie as it is there," he told Reuters.

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He also said one Indian climber suffering from frost bite was rescued from Camp Two, situated at about 6,400 meters (21,000 feet).

Last year's earthquake forced hundreds of climbers to abandon their expeditions. The temblor, the worst in Nepal's recorded history, killed 9,000 people across the Himalayan nation.

More than 350 climbers have reached the top of Everest this month from the Nepali side of the mountain while several people have climbed from Tibet.

Among them was 19-year-old Alyssa Azar, who on Saturday became the youngest Australian to summit Everest, and Lhakpa Sherpa, who notched a new record for woman climbers with her seventh ascent.

(Reporting by Gopal Sharma in KATHMANDU and Jarni Blakkarly in MELBOURNE; Editing by Ryan Woo and Rupam Jain)