Nepal | February 21, 2020

‘Critically ill’ Malaysian doctor evacuated from Mt Annapurna

Rajan Pokhrel

Rescuers pulling Malaysian climber Wui Kin Chin out of deep snow at 7,500 m on Mt Annapurna. Photo Courtesy: Mingma David Sherpa

KATHMANDU: A Malaysian climber, who was rescued alive from above Camp IV on Mt Annapurna yesterday, has been evacuated from the world’s tenth highest mountain this morning.

According to Thaneswor Guragai, an official at Seven Summit Treks, Wui Kin Chin, the 49-year-old doctor, is being airlifted from the base camp to Nepal Mediciti Hospital in Kathmandu after a Simrik Air chopper piloted by Senior Captain Siddartha Jung Gurung conducted a longline rescue flight to Camp III at around 9:00 am today.

Wui Kin Chin at the base camp of Mt Annapurna after being evacuated from Camp III. Photo Courtesy: Seven Summit Treks

With the health condition of the Malaysian climber further deteriorating at the high camp of Mt Annapurna, longline rescuers, who flew from Pokhara to the base camp, had to struggle hard to evacuate the mountaineer since early morning, he said.

According to Guragai, a group of four high-altitude rescuers descended Kin Chin alive to Camp III from an altitude of 7,500 m late Thursday night.

“Earlier, two choppers, which flew from Pokhara this morning, made at least three failed attempts from the base camp to land at Camp III where Kin Chin along with the rescuers was waiting for an urgent evacuation,” Guragai told THT. But, the fourth attempt turned out to be successful, he added.

“Kin Chin who has suffered from severe frostbite is said to be in critical condition,” Guragai quoted the rescuers as saying from Camp III. “It would take at least half an hour more for the rescue flight to land at Mediciti,” he informed.

According to expedition organiser, he was located alive on Thursday morning after a daring aerial search operation when a rescue helicopter piloted by Simrik Air’s senior captain Gurung spotted the climber waving his arms from an altitude of 7,500 m.

Singapore-based senior Anaesthesiologist Kin Chin went missing while descending from the summit point (8,091 m) after his climbing guide, as well as fellow climbers, left him stranded just below the French Couloir at 7,750 m at around 10:00 pm on Tuesday.

A file photo of Wui Kin Chin. Courtesy: Facebook

“An aerial search was conducted early in the morning to locate the stranded climber,” Captain Gurung said, adding that Kin Chin was seen waving at the air search team when his helicopter arrived there at around 8:00 am yesterday.

Kin Chin was deprived of supplemental oxygen, food and water for more than 43 hours, yet he miraculously survived in sub-zero temperature and thin air, Mingma Sherpa, chairman, Seven Summit Treks, said. Record-holder mountaineer Sherpa, who is now in the Annapurna region to coordinate the rescue mission, termed Kin Chin’s survival ‘highly extraordinary’.

According to Sherpa, another search mission was activated after the Captain Gurung-led team pinpointed the climber’s location. “Captain Bibek Khadka and I dropped a team of four high-altitude rescue climbers with necessary medicines and logistics at Camp III in the afternoon,” he said.

After abseiling from a helicopter at Camp III, the team of high-altitude climbers comprising Nirmal ‘Nims’ Purja, Mingma David Sherpa, Galgen Sherpa and Gesman Tamang struggled for over five hours to reach the stranded climber.

A rescue team of climbers – Nirmal ‘Nims’ Purja, Mingma David Sherpa, Galgen Sherpa and Gesman Tamang – at Camp III of Mt Annapurna. Photo Courtesy: Chhiring Dhenduk Bhote

“The team, which reached the location at around 5:30 pm, offered Kin Chin medicines, supplemental oxygen and food. The climber has lost his hands and legs to severe frostbite,” Sherpa quoted the rescuers as saying.

The team has brought him down to Camp III late in the night, from where evacuation can be carried out, Sherpa said, adding that helicopters were put on standby in Pokhara to evacuate the climber from 6,500 m.

Earlier, the rescue mission was delayed after Global Rescue, from which Kin Chin purchased the rescue insurance package, remained unresponsive to emergency calls. “Global rescue declined to activate rescue mission on Wednesday,” Captain Gurung said, adding that the mission was activated only Thursday after Kin Chin’s wife called Gurung from Singapore requesting him to search for the climber at any cost.

Kin Chin successfully scaled the summit at around 4:10 pm on Tuesday, along with 32 climbers. But while descending, the climbing guide abandoned his client saying the University of Melbourne alumnus couldn’t descend further due to weakness.

“All 32 climbers have already descended to the base camp,” Sherpa said.

According to the Department of Tourism, Kin Chin had successfully climbed Mt Everest last spring. Kin Chin was also planning to begin his next adventure on Mt Kanchenjunga after returning from Mt Annapurna, Sherpa added.

Mt Annapurna is considered the most deadly 8,000-metre mountain, with one death for every three summits.

According to the Himalaya Database, the death rate stands at 3.91 for Mt Annapurna compared to 1.22 for Mt Everest.

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