A South Korean man is feared to have been killed just after becoming the first disabled person to climb the world’s 14 highest peaks in the Himalayas.
A world record: Kim Hong-bin, who lost all his fingers to frostbite 30 years ago, reached the summit of Broad Peak in Pakistan’s Karakoram Range at 4:58 p.m. on Sunday (local time), the Korea Herald reported. At 8,047 meters (26,401 feet), Broad Peak is the last of 14 mountains he has climbed in the Himalayas above 8,000 meters (26,247 feet).
- Kim became the world’s first disabled person to reach this milestone. Overall, he is the world’s 44th and South Korea’s seventh, according to the Gwangju Alpine Federation.
- The expedition was originally scheduled last year but was postponed due to COVID-19. After reaching the summit, Kim sent a message saying, “If a disabled man could do this, everyone can get over the exhausting pandemic.”
The aftermath: Kim has been missing after reportedly falling into a crevasse while descending the peak. A large search operation is now being planned, according to reports.
- The 57-year-old is believed to have slipped. Karrar Haidri, secretary of the Pakistan Alpine Club, said Kim was descending the Chinese side of the mountain in bad weather, the BBC reported.
- Kim is believed to have gone missing at 7,900 meters (25,919 feet) above sea level. He also sent a distress call at 9:58 a.m. on Monday (local time), the Korea Times noted.
- Kim’s companions and nearby climbers reportedly tried to find him but failed. Pakistan vowed to send a helicopter to locate him, while China also agreed to make search efforts, according to the Associated Press.
- South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who congratulated Kim as soon as he reached the summit, said he is “not abandoning hopes.” He reportedly said in a statement, “I’ll earnestly wait for the news of his safe return with my people to the end.”