Ten people have been killed and 7 are missing after being caught in an avalanche on Mount Otgontenger, Mongolia's highest peak. Authorities banned climbing the peak for safety reasons two years ago.
According to the Mongolian National Emergency Management Agency, a group of 30 climbers, aged between 30 and 50, ignored the ban and was hit by an avalanche as it was descending from the mountain peak on Sunday, October 22, 2017.
The rescue operation, involving 100 people and two helicopters, was suspended due to the dark, but will continue Tuesday morning, the agency said.
A separate team of 10 climbers reportedly managed to make it down the mountain safely.
Just four other climbers have died since the 1960s, but the environment ministry in 2015 banned climbing for safety reasons.
Otgontenger is the highest peak in the Khangai Mountains in Mongolia, a preserved natural wonder, place of pilgrimage, and one of Mongolia's most sacred mountains.
Its summit is currently calculated to reach an elevation of 4 008 meters (13 150 feet) above sea level. The mountain is located in Zavkhan Province and is the only peak in the Khangai range that is capped with a permanent glacier. The south face of Mount Otgontenger is the most extensive granite wall in Mongolia.
Since the introduction of Buddhism, traditional Mongolian beliefs have held that wrathful deities inhabit many of Mongolia's sacred mountains. Ochirvaani is particularly associated with Otgontenger.
Featured image: Otgontenger, Mongolia. Credit: Andre Felbrich