Three Italian climbers found dead on Mont Blanc

A photo taken on August 10, 2018 shows a helicopter flying over the Mont Blanc massif, on the Italian side of the Alps, in the area where three Italian moutaineers have been reported missing for three days. (AFP)
Updated 11 August 2018
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Three Italian climbers found dead on Mont Blanc

  • The first body was recovered after rescuers cut the cord linking the three climbers, and attempts to recover the other two will resume Saturday morning
  • Overcrowding has increased the risks for the around 300 climbers who attempt to reach the top each day

LYON: Three Italian climbers were found dead Friday on Mont Blanc in the French Alps, three days after they set out to summit Europe’s highest peak, rescue workers said.
The body of Luca Lombardini was recovered by the mountain police rescue service. Those of his brother and his fiancee were located nearby but have yet to be retrieved.
“They are probably buried under rocks and ice in an area covering a few dozen square meters,” an official at the rescue service said.
They were found around 1:00 p.m. (1100 GMT) at the foot of the Aiguille Verte (“Green Needle“), one of the peaks in the Mont Blanc massif.
“They were going along a ridge at an altitude of 3,400 to 3,500 meters (11,100-11,500 feet), and it seems they slipped and fell together,” the official said.
The ascent was a birthday present for Luca, who was joined by his fiancee and his brother Alessandro, himself a mountain rescue worker in Bardonecchia, near the French border, Italy’s Ansa news agency reported.
The first body was recovered after rescuers cut the cord linking the three climbers, and attempts to recover the other two will resume Saturday morning.
The accident brings to 15 the death toll on the 4,810-meter (10,500-foot) Mont Blanc during this year’s climbing season so far, after 14 people died and two went missing last year.
Overcrowding has increased the risks for the around 300 climbers who attempt to reach the top each day.
Officials last month began limiting access on the most popular route up Mont Blanc by turning away climbers who do not have reservations at the 120-bed Gouter refuge.
The heatwave that gripped much of Europe in recent weeks has also made conditions more treacherous, causing more ice to melt, making the ground more instable.


Taliban’s Ghazni assault sparks new Pak-Afghan tensions

Updated 59 min 8 sec ago
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Taliban’s Ghazni assault sparks new Pak-Afghan tensions

  • Pakistan’s Foreign Office says Afghanistan has not shared any evidence to support its recent allegations against Pakistan
  • Imran Khan’s idea of a soft border between Pakistan and Afghanistan may have suffered a big setback in the wake of the Ghazni attack

PESHAWAR: In the backdrop of the Taliban’s brazen assault on the southern city of Ghazni in Afghanistan, President Ashraf Ghani alleged that the bodies of the perpetrators had arrived in Pakistan, though Islamabad maintained that Kabul had not officially shared any information or evidence in this regard.
Soon after that, the Afghan president said in a fiery speech to a jirga in Ghazni: “I have a message for Pakistan. Dead bodies (of the Taliban) have arrived in (Pakistan). Peace cannot be forcefully imposed on Afghanistan. Where did they (Taliban) come from and why are they being treated in (Pakistani) hospitals?”
But Pakistan strongly rejected reports claiming that some Taliban fighters involved in the Ghazni attack had been offered medical treatment in its hospitals.
In the absence of any official communication through regular channels established bilaterally, such reports cannot be given any credence, said Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Saturday.
Haq Nawaz, a senior Peshawar-based security analyst, told Arab News that the newly elected Prime Minister Imran Khan faced a string of daunting challenges, such as economic revival, political stability, tackling corruption, and improving relations with his country’s immediate neighbors.
However, he added that recent developments in Afghanistan, where the Taliban have stepped up violent activities, will probably constitute a much bigger predicament for the new political administration.
He recalled that Khan had mentioned in his victory speech that he wanted a European Union-style soft border with Afghanistan, claiming that the idea had seemingly received a setback after the Ghazni attack.
“The latest bout of allegations will have a negative impact on the process of reviving good relations between the two neighboring countries,” Nawaz noted.
Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa also expressed “deep concern” over the recent surge in violence in Afghanistan and lamented in a statement released by the military’s media wing the loss of precious lives.
Bajwa reiterated that Pakistan was not supporting terrorist activities inside Afghanistan. He added that the allegation about the movement of injured or dead terrorists from Ghazni to Pakistan was incorrect.
However, the army chief noted that there were scores of Pakistanis working in Afghanistan, and that some of them periodically fell victim to acts of terrorism along with their Afghan brothers inside Afghanistan. “Terming such victims as terrorists is unfortunate,” he maintained.
Yet, the Afghan president sought an explanation from Pakistan’s civilian and military leadership on the Ghazni attack.
“Imran Khan, you are the son of Pashtun parents. Investigate this and give me an answer. General Bajwa, you have repeatedly given me assurances over phone calls that special attention would be given to the issue of peace in Afghanistan once elections took place in Pakistan. Now give me an answer,” Ghani said while addressing a group of tribal elders attending the jirga.
Bajwa said that different factions of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan hiding in their sanctuaries in Afghanistan after assuming Afghan identities, were transported to Pakistan for medical help after receiving injuries.
Nawaz said the Afghan government should share relevant evidence with Pakistan in this case, arguing that using the media or social media to deal with such serious and sensitive developments can worsen the situation.
He said it was not just a statement or allegation from an ordinary official since the claim was made by a head of state, adding that both countries should settle such teething issues through dialogue and diplomatic channels.
However, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs noted in its statement: “Such reports can only be viewed as malicious propaganda to vitiate the existing cooperation between the two countries.”