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Search for Climbers in Kyrgyzstan Halted

August 6, 2004

BALYKCHI, Kyrgyzstan (AP) _ Rescuers trying to reach the scene of an avalanche that killed at least six mountaineers on one of Kyrgyzstan’s highest peaks have postponed their search for six other missing climbers because of the threat of more avalanches, emergency officials said Friday.

Five Czechs and a Russian died in the avalanche Thursday. Emergencies Ministry spokesman Emil Akmatov said Friday that a Czech was missing, in addition to two Russians and three Ukrainians reported missing earlier.

About 50 climbers had been ascending the Khan Tengri mountain when the avalanche hit, and almost all have reported back to base camp, according to the Ak-Sai Travel tour company.

Akmatov said another avalanche had struck the area and the threat of more had prevented rescuers from starting their search. Thirty-three Russian rescuers arrived Friday in Kyrgyzstan and were on their way to the accident site.

Khan Tengri, which means Lord of Spirits, is 22,998 feet high and the third-highest peak in the country.

Mountains cover more than 90 percent of impoverished Kyrgyzstan, which has loosened visa controls in an attempt to boost tourism.

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