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Friday, November 12, 1999 Published at 18:01 GMT

World: South Asia

Mount Everest reaches new heights

The west face of Mount Everest,

A team of mountaineers which went to Everest six months ago with sophisticated measuring equipment has revealed that the world's highest mountain has grown even higher.

The revelations of the American Millenium Expedition were presented in Washington to the National Geographic Society, which has now officially accepted the new height and will revise its maps accordingly.

Bradford Washburn, director of the expedition said: "We now know much more about the configuraton of our Earth... than we did 40 years ago."

Nepal has welcomed the revelations. However, it says that it would like to carry out its own measurements.

Two metres taller

[ image: Sir Edmund Hillary led the first team to the top of Everest in 1953]
Sir Edmund Hillary led the first team to the top of Everest in 1953
The new recorded height of Mount Everest is 8850 metres, or 29035 feet. That is an increase of about two metres - or seven feet - on the altitude, which was set by Indian geologists and which has been recognised officially for 45 years.

That height had been fixed at 29028 feet in 1953 when Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay made the famous first ascent of Everest.

Back then, sophisticated height measuring instruments - like the Global Positioning System, a satellite device - were not available.

The American mountaineering team spent nearly two hours on the summit collecting satellite data which later provided an exact fix on their position.

Geological changes

Fifty million years ago, the Eurasian and Indian continents collided spectacularly to form the Himalayas. The study confirmed that geological movements continue to take place to this day as India is gradually pushed beneath China and Nepal.

[ image: Mount Everest has revealed a few secrets this year]
Mount Everest has revealed a few secrets this year
Mr Washburn said: "At this moment, six months later, Mount Everest may already be a trifle higher, as well as slightly northeast of the position that it occupied early in May."

The revised height is the second secret Mount Everest has revealed this year. A separate American team located the body of the long-lost English mountaineer, George Mallory, who died there 75 years earlier.

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