Rescuers have evacuated survivors of a climbing expedition on Eurasia’s highest volcano that claimed eight lives, local authorities say.
The deceased were part of a group of 12 individuals, including two guides, who have been climbing Klyuchevskaya Sopka in the north eastern Kamchatka peninsula region of Russia since August 30, Russian state news agency, RIA Novosti, said. A rescue group began climbing to reach the survivors Monday, Russia’s Ministry of Civil Defense, Emergencies and Disaster Relief told state media.
At 4,750 meters (15,580 feet), Klyuchevskaya Sopka is one of the world’s highest active volcanos.
The Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations reported that as of Tuesday morning the survivors had been transported by helicopter to the nearest village, Klyuchi, in the Ust-Kamchatka district. RIA Novosti noted that one of the survivors had contacted frostbite by the time rescuers reached them.
According to local media, the plan is to ultimately evacuate the survivors to Petropavlovsk on a Regional Center of Disaster Medicine plane.
Izvestiya, one of Russia’s main daily newspapers, reported that some of the rescue group remained on the volcano after the survivors were evacuated. The remaining rescuers will decide on how to evacuate the dead bodies, located at a height of 4158 meters (13,641 feet), after the weather forecast is determined.
Conditions on the volcano are treacherous and unpredictable, with strong winds, bitterly cold temperatures and snow at high altitudes.
Previous search and rescue attempts to reach the trapped individuals were unsuccessful, as strong winds prevented a helicopter from landing on the volcano Sunday, a day after five members of the group fell to their deaths. By Monday morning, three more had died, Russian Deputy Prime Minister of Kamchatka Roman Vasilevsky told RIA Novosti.
The Minister of Emergency Situations for the region where the volcano is located has opened an information hotline for relatives of the climbing party, a spokesperson told RIA Novosti.
“Relatives can find out information about the progress of search and rescue operations, as well as, if necessary, get psychological help,” the ministry’s press service said.
A criminal case has been initiated to look into the cause of the deaths, RIA Novosti reported.