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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 October 2005, 12:01 GMT 13:01 UK
Climber's body recovered in Nepal
Rescuers search for the 18 missing climbers at Manang, Nepal
Rescuers now presume all the climbers are dead
Rescuers in Nepal say they have found the body of one of 18 climbers missing in the west of the country.

It is not yet clear if the body is that of one of seven French climbers hit by an avalanche on Mount Kanguru last week or a Nepalese guide, rescuers said.

The Himalayan Rescue Association (HRA) said all the French climbers and their 11 guides were now presumed dead.

A search is continuing, but police say the focus is on recovering bodies of the climbers, last seen on Wednesday.

Bad weather has delayed rescue operations.

'Slim chance'

On Monday, French Foreign Minister, Philippe Douste-Blazy said it was highly unlikely that any of the climbers would be found alive.

Map of Nepal showing the location of Kanguru peak

"Given the characteristics of the avalanche that hit the seven French climbers and their Nepalese guides, the chances of finding any survivors are unfortunately very slim," he said.

Deputy inspector general of police in the western town of Pokhara, Sher Bahadur Shah, said local villagers were helping the search team try to recover the bodies.

He said the rescuers were equipped with a satellite phone and the government would send a helicopter to bring bodies as soon as they heard from the team.

A search team has already rescued four Nepalese porters who survived the avalanche on Sunday.

Authorities in the capital, Kathmandu, lost contact with the climbers after an avalanche triggered by heavy snowfalls hit the base camp at the 6,981m-high Kanguru peak.

A mountain porter, who survived the avalanche on Kanguru mountain, Nepal
One of four porters who survived the avalanche

The French climbers were being led by Daniel Stolzenberg, 60, and supported by a team of porters and high altitude Nepalese guides.

Climbers use a short period between the end of the monsoon rains in September and the onset of winter to scale mountains in Nepal.

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