ISLAMABAD, July 20 (Reuters) – A South Korean Paralympic athlete was reported missing on Tuesday after falling from the world’s 12th highest mountain, the 8,047-meter (26,400-foot) Broad Peak in northern Pakistan, announced the Pakistan Alpine Club.
Kim Hong-bin, 57, who represented his country in alpine skiing at the 2002 Paralympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City, had reached the summit with other climbers on Sunday but encountered bad weather on the way down, a indicated the club.
Kim fell into a crevasse on the Chinese side of the mountain, which is part of the Karakoram Range on the border of Pakistan and China.
“The rest of the group looked for him, but couldn’t stay up there and had to come back down,” Karrar Haidri, head of the Alpine Club, told Reuters. “A search operation is being set up, and when the weather permits, helicopters will join the effort.”
South Korean President Moon Jae-in said in a tweet that he will keep hopes of finding Kim alive and await his safe return.
Broad Peak was the last peak in Kim’s quest to climb the 14 tallest mountains in the world, known as the “Eight Thousand” because they rise above every 8,000 meters. He climbed Mount Everest in 2007.
Moon’s post came a day after his congratulatory comments to Kim as the first person with a disability to climb the 14 peaks.
“Hong-bin is now the first person with a disability to climb the eight thousand in the world,” Haidri said.
Kim lost all of her fingers to frostbite in 1991 while climbing Mount Denali in Alaska. He then learned to downhill skiing and also practiced para-cycling at the national level.
South Korea’s foreign ministry has asked Pakistan and China to help locate Kim, ministry spokesman Choi Young-sam said at a briefing.
The two agreed and Pakistan said a helicopter would take off as soon as possible, weather permitting, Choi said.
Kim also founded an organization that teaches mountaineering and other outdoor sports to children with disabilities.
In February, three climbers – Pakistani Muhammad Ali Sadpara, Icelandic Jon Snorri and Chilean Juan Pablo Mohr – died trying to climb the second highest mountain in the world, the Pakistani K2 of 8,611 meters.
Reporting by Umar Farooq, additional reporting by Sangmi Cha in Seoul; Editing by Nick Macfie
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