Disaster on Mt. Everest

17 are dead after a deadly avalanche struck the mountain's base camp early Saturday.
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17 are dead after a deadly avalanche struck the mountain's base camp early Saturday.

UPDATE: As of Sunday morning, The Washington Postreports that the Everest death toll has risen to 17 and may climb higher. Poor weather conditions and a shortage of helicopters due to widespread destruction in Kathmandu are hampering evacuation efforts. This post has been updated throughout.

A powerful earthquake in Nepal triggered a deadly avalanche on Mt. Everest early Saturday, killing at least seventeen people and injuring dozens more on the world's highest peak.

The avalanche struck near the mountain's base camp, stranding teams in Camps 1 and 2. Eyewitnesses on the peak described a chaotic scene of scattered equipment and mounting casualties.

"We had to stand still not to fall, and we then turned around and looked at the avalanche, froze for a few seconds and realized that this avalanche was like nothing we had ever experienced," Danish climber Carsten Lillelund Pedersen told NBC News. "It was so tall that we realized it could catch us."

Other climbers took to social media to report their status:

The Washington Postreports that a 7.8-magnitude quake struck just outside Kathmandu early Saturday morning, flattening buildings in the capital and stranding sightseers. As of Sunday, the death toll had risen to more than 2,400, with hundreds more flooding into local hospitals with injuries.

Read more: Washington Post | NBC News