Page last updated at 16:16 GMT, Saturday, 2 August 2008 17:16 UK

K2 climber missing after ice fall

Six climbers have been reported missing

A climber, who became the first Irish person to summit K2 - the world's second highest mountain - has been reported missing.

Gerard McDonnell, 37, from Kilcornan, County Limerick, was climbing with a group of Dutch mountaineers when they were hit by falling ice.

The group had been cut off 8,000 metres from the base of the mountain.

Six climbers in total have been reported missing.

Mr McDonnell's group have been on the mammoth expedition for the last eight weeks, battling sub-zero temperatures.

In an online despatch, he said that after the team set 31 July as their date for the summit bid, spirits were high.

"Let luck and good fortune prevail, fingers crossed," he wrote.

Newry mountaineer Banjo Bannon said people should not give up hope yet.

"I wouldn't panic just yet, it's too early. It's more than likely just a communication issue," he said.

"I knew there was ice fall just above the bottleneck and some of the ice must have dislodged their fixed ropes, so it's just a slow process of down-climbing at the moment."

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