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Page last updated at 06:53 GMT, Wednesday, 6 August 2008 07:53 UK

K2 survivor 'taken to hospital'

K2 (file pic)
Many regard K2 as the world's deadliest mountain to climb

The last known survivor of a disaster on the world's second highest peak in Pakistan has been airlifted from base camp to hospital, officials say.

Italian Marco Confortola is reported to be severely frostbitten and will be treated by medics in nearby Skardu.

He reached the K2 base camp on Tuesday, saying his companions were dead.

Mr Confortola was stranded on K2 after an avalanche of falling ice blocked climbers descending from the summit nearly five days ago.

Eleven climbers died after the ice fall swept away fixed ropes on the 8,611m (28,240 ft) peak in Pakistan on Friday.

Some fell to their deaths, others froze, and some went missing in the freezing high altitude.

Mr Confortola was the last of about 22 climbers involved in the disaster to be accounted for. The 11 still missing are presumed dead.

"He has been rescued and he is probably about to reach Skardu on the helicopter. He'll receive some medical treatment once he gets there," Italian embassy spokesman Sergio Oddo told the Reuters news agency.

"He complained about a lot of pain and has some difficulties in walking."

Three members of Mr Confortola's support team were also flown by helicopter to Skardu, a small northern Pakistani town surrounded by mountains on the Indus river.

Mr Oddo said that he expected the climber to be brought to Islamabad later on Wednesday.

On arriving at the base camp, Mr Confortola said he felt "truly happy" to be alive.

"Now I just want to take off my shoes, since my feet are hurting something awful," said the climber, who is suffering from frostbite.

Pakistan has listed the 11 dead as three South Koreans, two Nepalis, two Pakistanis and climbers from France, Ireland, Serbia and Norway.

Mr Confortola was brought down after four nights on the mountain by a rescue party consisting of an American climber and Pakistani high-altitude porters.

Two frostbitten Dutch climbers were taken off the mountain by helicopter on Monday.

The ice fall swept away the ropes as the fastest climbers descended, causing those higher up to be left stranded.

One Dutch survivor complained that after the disaster climbers from various different countries did not work together to survive.

K2 lies near Pakistan's northern border with China. It is regarded by mountaineers as more challenging to conquer than Mount Everest, the world's highest peak.

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SEE ALSO
K2 survivor: Companions all dead
05 Aug 08 |  South Asia
Dutch climbers airlifted from K2
04 Aug 08 |  South Asia
Eleven climbers feared dead on K2
03 Aug 08 |  South Asia
Irish K2 mountaineer feared dead
03 Aug 08 |  Northern Ireland
Recalling epic K2 first ascent
30 Jul 04 |  South Asia
Russian climbers go missing on K2
16 Aug 06 |  South Asia

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