Eight climbers have died attempting to scale the Klyuchevskaya Sopka volcano in Russia’s far east, according to local officials, after freezing winds halted a rescue attempt.
Six people had initially been reported killed, according to officials on the Kamchatka peninsula, and six more were believed to be stranded from the party of 12, which included two guides.
But the Interfax news agency said “two more died”, quoting Roman Vasilevsky, Kamchatka territory’s deputy prime minister. His information came from a guide who was communicating from the 4,754-metre (15,597ft) volcano by satellite phone, Interfax said.
The party of 12 set off on Tuesday to climb the mountain – Eurasia’s highest active volcano – but ran into trouble on Saturday when some of the group fell to their death at almost 4,200m, authorities said.
One person is thought to have a broken leg, they added.
Rescuers attempted to reach them on Sunday but had to turn back as severe winds prevented their helicopter from landing.
“They were scheduled to land at an altitude of 3,300m, but due to gale force winds at 30 metres per second [67mph] they failed to do so, although two attempts were made a few hours apart,” rescuers said.
Temperatures on the mountain can reach as low as minus 14C overnight.
Tatyana Yukhmanova, a representative from the local civil defence authority, said rescuers would try to reach the group again on Monday if weather conditions allowed.
Klyuchevskaya Sopka is the tallest of more than 160 volcanoes whose snowy peaks tower over the Kamchatka peninsula. It forms part of a Unesco world heritage site listed for its exceptional natural beauty.
Rescuers warn that the mountain, made up of mounds of volcanic rocks mixed with snow and ice, is considered particularly hazardous to climbers due to its altitude and the risk of volcanic eruption.