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Tuesday 15 October 2019

Everest hunt for missing Seamus is called off

Seamus Lawless reached the summit of Everest on Thursday
Seamus Lawless reached the summit of Everest on Thursday

The search for an Irish professor who fell on Mount Everest after making a successful ascent has been called off.

Seamus Lawless (39) fulfilled a lifelong dream of reaching the summit of the world's highest mountain on Thursday.

However, hours later, he fell from an altitude of 8,300m as his group made its way down.

Yesterday, the search for him was called off because of high winds and temperatures of -27C, with a wind chill making it feel more like -43C.

Mr Lawless, from Bray, Co Wicklow, was due to celebrate his 40th birthday in July, and his wife Pam is five months pregnant with their second child.

Tragedy

The assistant professor in artificial intelligence at Trinity's School of Computer Science and Statistics was climbing in a group of eight led by Northern Irish adventurer Noel Hanna.

He reportedly fell from the mountain in an area known as the balcony.

The group suffered another tragedy yesterday morning when an Indian climber, Ravi Thakar, was found dead in his tent at Camp Four at 7,900m.

Irish climber Pat Falvey, who has scaled Everest twice, said: "Other group climbers found him dead inside his tent when he failed to appear.

"The whole climbing community is devastated with this additional news.

"Mr Lawless's wife, young daughter and other family members are distraught but the community will rally around them as best as they can.

"The search has had to be called off for safety reasons because of the high winds and frigid temperatures.

"As time passes, the more difficult it will be for everyone in the group and for rescuers to locate Mr Lawless.

"This will be devastating for the group left on the mountain. Mr Hanna, who is group lead, is such a careful, dedicated and professional climber and for this to happen will be tough on him."

Mr Lawless had done the climb to raise up to €25,000 for Barretstown, a charity dedicated to seriously ill children and their families.

He flew to Nepal in April to prepare for the climb and to allow his body to acclimatise to the thinner air, in a bid to avoid altitude sickness.

Seven Summit Treks, the guide company behind the climb, confirmed it had involved a team of Sherpas to search for Mr Lawless.

Another Irish climber, Jennifer Shirley, and Saray N'ksui Khumalo of South Africa, the first black African woman to reach the summit, are part of the group.

The Department of Foreign Affairs is liaising closely with Mr Lawless's family.

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