Five climbers have died after they got caught in a sudden snowstorm on Russia's Mount Elbrus, the highest mountain in Europe.
The incident struck when a group of 19 climbers were at an altitude of over 5,000 metres.
The other 14 members of the party were rescued on the peak in the Caucasus in "the most difficult conditions”, with high winds and heavy snow amid temperatures of minus -20 Celsius, the regional emergency ministry said.
Eleven of the survivors were taken to hospital.
The group of Russian climbers sent out a mayday call on Thursday, the ministry said.
The company which organised the climb said there were four professional guides accompanying the climbers.
During the ascent, one of the climbers felt unwell and turned back with one of the guides. She later died "in his arms," it said.
The rest of the group continued to the summit but an "unprecedented storm" struck on their way down.
One of the climbers broke a leg, further slowing down the group.
"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," Denis Alimov, who organised guides for the climb, told TASS news agency.
"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.”
Two climbers froze to death and two others lost consciousness and died as they were brought down, the company said.
The guides and some of the participants have been hospitalised with frostbite.
While the ascent is not considered technically difficult, dozens of climbers die every year during summit attempts.
Elbrus, located in Russia's North Caucasus, is the highest mountain in Europe at 5,642 metres.
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