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Mt. Everest Avalanche Injures Climbers

Medics in a makeshift tent hospital on Mount Everest (search) on Friday treated six climbers injured in an avalanche, while rescuers hoping to evacuate the victims in helicopters were turned back by snowfall and strong wind.

No one was killed by the avalanche early Thursday, which swept through the first of four camps set up between Everest's base camp and the mountain's 29,035-foot summit.

Six climbers received injuries ranging from bruises to a possible broken back, reports from the mountain said. The victims' nationalities were still unclear.

They were being treated at a hospital run by the Himalayan Rescue Association (search) in a tent at the base camp, located at an elevation of 17,400 feet.

Climbers estimate about 40 tents were destroyed by the avalanche, which buried food, supplies and oxygen stocked by the climbers.

There are no roads to the base camp and the only ways out are to hike for a week to the nearest airstrip or by helicopter.

In the past few days, strong winds and snowfall have slowed climbers on the mountain and created treacherous conditions.

The weather is expected to worsen this weekend, with the wind picking up speed, forecasters said.

Twenty-three expeditions were attempting to scale the peak this spring.

Two mountaineers — American Michael O'Brien (search), 39, and Canadian Sean Egan (search), 63 — have died in the past few days, and the climbers have yet to reach the final, most difficult section on Everest, known as the "death zone."

Since New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay first conquered Everest on May 29, 1953, more than 1,400 people have scaled the mountain. About 180 have died on its unpredictable slopes.