Five climbers died after they got caught in a sudden snowstorm on Russia’s Mount Elbrus, the highest mountain in Europe, officials said.
The other 14 members of the party were rescued on the peak in the Caucasus in high winds and heavy snow amid temperatures of minus -20 Celsius (-4 Fahrenheit), the regional emergency ministry said.
The group of Russian climbers sent out a mayday call just after 5 p.m. (1400 GMT) on Thursday, the ministry added.
Eleven of the survivors were taken to hospital, it added.
One member of the group broke his leg as he was being brought down, Denis Alimov, who organised guides for the climb, told TASS news agency.
“Probably because of this, the group lost time, the weather deteriorated catastrophically… They decided to split the group into three parts – those going faster and those going slower,” he told TASS.
“As they descended, two more people died in one of the groups. But the decision to split up was the right one, otherwise there might have been more casualties.”
Guides with the group suffered frostbite and other injuries, Alimov told TASS.