S'pore Everest team's narrow escape from avalanche in Nepal
Three members of Aluminaid Team Singapura Everest 2015 were at Everest Base Camp (EBC) when Nepal was hit by a devastating earthquake.
The members are team leader Nur Yusrina Ya'akob, 27, a primary school teacher, and brothers Ismail Latiff, 35, and Zulkifli Latiff, 42, who are both with the Singapore Civil Defence Force.
Ms Yusrina told The New Paper on Sunday at 9pm yesterday that they were safe. She said they felt the tremors at about 12.15pm local time (2.30pm Singapore time).
"The mountains around us were shaking too," she told TNPS via Whatsapp.
"A few avalanches happened at the same time from Nuptse, Lhola and Pumori."
Nuptsa, Lhola and Pumori are mountains surrounding Everest.
"(The avalanche on) Pumori was the biggest and it's on the west side of EBC. It hit most camps," said Ms Yusrina.
"We were hit by the plume of snow pretty hard."
An unknown person from another team running away as the plume of snow approaches quickly. Snow plumes happen after avalanches and hit with great force, but consist of little snow. PHOTO: MUHAMMAD HILWAN
The team is there to conquer Mount Everest in celebration of Singapore's 50th birthday.
The expedition was supposed to last from March 25 to June 10, and they were hoping to reach the summit by May 28.
Two of the other team members dropped out due to medical issues.
The initial team leader, Mr Muhammad Hilwan Mohammad Idrus, 29, suffered a stroke during training and remained in Singapore.
Another team member, Mr Seumas Yeo, 26, who had just graduated from the Singapore Management University, was evacuated to Kathmandu on April 18 due to an infection.
He is currently still in the hospital there and is safe.
The remaining members of the team at EBC were outdoors looking out for avalanches when the earthquake struck. Before they could react, they were hit by a white-out.
"Pumori's avalanche was so huge and the plume of snow came to us so fast. We had little time to run for shelter when it hit our campsite," said Ms Yusrina.
"But everyone managed to get into a tent for shelter."
The team is not alone. They are currently with five members of a Malaysian team, one climber from Belgium, and 19 Sherpas.
Ms Yusrina said that Sherpas from the other camps like theirs are now assisting in rescue operations, but the weather is not helping.
She added: "The camp sites nearer to Pumori were wiped out. Many were injured and some, we heard, are dead due to the avalanche. Heavy snowfall since morning has prevented helicopters from flying up here."
The white-out has been getting worse, and the team reports extremely low visibility.
They said there has been a lot of movement at EBC with rescue operations going on in heavy snow, but the team was told to stay in the safety of their campsite by the camp manager.
"We were prepared to be activated to help out when we heard of many casualties," said Ms Yusrina.
"But we were told to stay put."
The team is anxious to help out, but there is little they can do.
Ms Yusrina said: "The camp next to us... had their tents flattened to the ground."
- Additional reporting by Ling Yuanrong