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4 missing climbers presumed dead after avalanche

4:20 PM, Jun 16, 2012   |    comments
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TALKEETNA, Alaska (AP) - Four members of a Japanese climbing team are presumed dead after an avalanche swept them off a hill on Mount McKinley.

U.S. National Park Service officials say five people were traveling as one rope team early Thursday morning as part of a Miyagi Workers Alpine Federation expedition.

One team member, 69-year-old Hitoshi Ogi, was swept into a crevasse and survived. The other four tumbled into the avalanche debris and haven't been seen since.

The Park Service says in a news release that nearly 400 mountaineers were making rescue attempts Saturday on the Alaska mountain's West Buttress. Snowfall and wind have impeded the search.

The four missing climbers include 64-year-old Yoshiaki Kato, 50-year-old Masako Suda, 56-year-old Michiko Suzuki, and 63-year-old Tamao Suzuki.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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