“The toll could go up, it may include foreigners as well as Sherpas,” Gyanendra Shrestha, an official from the Nepal tourist board, told the Telegraph.
On their website, Jagged Globe, a British company that specializes in leading climbers up Everest, reported Saturday that American Dan Fredinburg was among those killed in the avalanche. Two other members of the Jagged Globe sustained non-life threatening injuries, the company said.
A google executive, Fredinburg had “made headlines for dating actress Sophia Bush,” according to CNN. In recent days, CNN noted, he’d kept followers updated on his trip by posting captivating photos on Instagram and Twitter, where he referred to himself as an “adventurer, inventor, and energetic engineer.”
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to Dan’s family and friends,” read a statement on Jagged Globe’s website, “whilst we pray too for all those who have lost their lives in one of the greatest tragedies ever to hit this Himalayan nation.”
The avalanche reportedly struck between the Khumbu Icefall, a notoriously treacherous of area of shifting snow and falling ice, and the base camp where most climbing expeditions begin, according to the Associated Press.
Tiku Gurung, an executive committee member of the Expedition Operators Association, which represents Everest’s Sherpas, told the Telegraph that five climbers had been killed. But the paper noted that it was unclear if that five was included in original eight-person toll or whether it was a separate list.
“We’re not exactly sure, but we believe five are dead,” he said, estimating that between 700 and 800 climbers were on the mountain at the time. “There are so many people injured, but we do not know the exact number. The avalanche came from so many sides,” he told the Telegraph.
The magnitude-7.8 quake struck around noon Saturday, about 50 miles northwest of Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu.
The avalanche triggered by the quake arrived just over a year after another avalanche near Everest base camp claimed the lives of 13 Nepali mountain guides, marking it as the single greatest loss of life in the mountain’s deadly history.
Images from base camp showed climber’s belongings strewn across the ground and brightly-colored tents covered in snow. Reports on Twitter suggested some climbers were evacuating the area, while others remained to help facilitate rescue efforts.
Carsten Lillelund Pedersen told the AP that he and a Belgian companion were at the Khumbu Icefall, “close to the base camp at an altitude of 5,000 meters (16,500 feet), when the earthquake hit.”
“We are starting to receive the injured, the most severe of them with many fractures, he was blown away by the avalanche and broke both legs,” he wrote on Facebook. “For the camps closer to where the avalanche hit, our Sherpas believe that a lot of people may have been buried in their tents.”
Climbers described a chaotic scene that included multiple aftershocks and avalanches that turned the already dangerous mountain into a trembling nightmare.
Capt. Tim Bradshaw, the leader of a British army team attempting to scale the peak, told Sky News his tent started to “rock and move” as the earthquake hit.
“Then almost like thunder huge boulders started to break around us from the side of the mountain and roll down towards the bottom, towards base camp,” he said.
“Everyone here is fine,” he added, “but we are on the other side of the mountain away from the Nepal side, quite away from the epicenter.”
Over the last six decades, more than 4,000 climbers have scaled Mount Everest, with hundreds more attempting to do so during the two-month climbing season each spring, according to the Associated Press. The number of climbers has spiked in recent years, with more than 800 climbers reaching the summit in the 2013 spring season, the AP reported.
(This post has been updated multiple times)