Five tourists freeze to death on Europe’s highest mountain during -20C blizzard

Five climbers have died on Europe’s highest mountain after getting caught in a blizzard on Thursday.

Four women and one man were killed near the summit of Mount Elbrus in the Caucasus mountains in Russia.

Another 18 amateur climbers along with their guides were rescued by a team of 69 rescuers in a major operation that lasted until the early hours of Friday morning, the Daily Mail reports.

Some of the climbers suffered frostbite, while others suffered broken bones, with 11 of the survivors taken to hospital following the rescue.

The five victims were named as Anna Makarova, 36, Vyacheslav Borisov, 39, Yelena Nesterova, 32, Anastasia Zhigulina, 40, and Irina Galchuk, 32.

Makarova was described as being in “perfect physical shape”, but died in the arms of mountain guide, Igor Dankov, after suddenly becoming unwell in the extreme conditions, 300ft from the 18,510ft peak of the mountain.

She allegedly asked the guide to get her down, with Dankov giving her tea and ammonia, but she died within an hour of saying she felt unwell.

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Two of the group froze to death while others lost consciousness, with one member breaking 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.

“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.”

The sudden bad weather had not been foreseen when the group of 23 climbers along with four professional guides set out to conquer the peak in Southern Russia, near the Georgian border.

A criminal case has been opened into the deaths of the climbers and how the ascent was allowed to go ahead.

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