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Nepal Everest cleanup drive yields garbage, bodies

June 5, 2019
Workers load garbage which was collected from Mount Everest in trucks in Kathmandu, Nepal, Wednesday, June 5, 2019. Officials in Nepal say a government expedition to Mount Everest has removed 11,000 kilograms (24,200 pounds) of garbage and four dead bodies from the world's highest mountain. (AP Photo/Bikram Rai)

KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) — A Nepal government expedition to Mount Everest has removed 11,000 kilograms (24,200 pounds) of garbage and four dead bodies from the world’s highest mountain, officials said Wednesday.

Tourism Department official Danduraj Ghimire said the cleaners spent weeks collecting food wrappings, cans, bottles and empty oxygen cylinders.

Some of the garbage was flown to Kathmandu and handed over to recyclers in a ceremony Wednesday officially concluding the cleaning campaign. Officials called it a successful mission but said more trash still needs to be collected. Some is covered by snow and only is exposed when temperatures rise.

Officials have not been able to estimate exactly how much garbage is on the mountain. Most was at Camps 2 and 3, at which climbers can rest along the way from the base camp to the 8,850-meter (29,035-foot) summit.

Ghimire said the four bodies were exposed by melting snow and were carried to base camp and then flown to a hospital in Kathmandu for identification. Climbers struggling to make it down the mountain alive sometimes are unable to carry out the bodies of teammates who have died.

More than 300 climbers have died on Everest since it was first conquered in 1953. It is unclear how many bodies are still on the mountain, and officials said they have no records.

Hundreds of climbers and their guides and porters spend weeks on Everest every spring, the best climbing season. A tent city rises at the base camp at 5,300 meters (17,400 feet) for three months between March and May.

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