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24,000 pounds of garbage were just removed from Mount Everest, leading to the discovery of four dead bodies

CBS News logo CBS News 6/7/2019 Sophie Lewis
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The Nepalese government has removed just over 24,000 pounds of trash from Mount Everest, according to the Associated Press. During their cleanup of the world's highest mountain, cleaners also uncovered four dead bodies. 

Among the 11 tons of recovered trash from the 45-day project are food wrappers, cans, bottles and empty oxygen cylinders, Tourism Department official Danduraj Ghimire said. Cleaning up the mountain has been extremely difficult due to unpredictable weather conditions, inaccessibility of certain areas and the inherent dangers involved.

Ghimire said the four dead bodies were found by the cleaners in melting snow and were taken to base camp before being flown to a hospital in the capital for identification, AP reports. None of the bodies have been identified and it is not known when they died. 

Some of the waste was flown to Kathmandu, Nepal's capital, in army helicopters. Officials presented it to recyclers in a ceremony to officially conclude to clean up project, the AP reports. "Unfortunately, some garbage collected in bags at the South Col could not be brought down due to bad weather," Ghimire said in a statement on Wednesday.

a person riding on top of a snow covered mountain: On May 22, 2019, a long queue of mountain climbers line a path on Mount Everest. About half a dozen climbers died on Everest last week most while descending from the congested summit during only a few windows of good weather each May.  © Provided by CBS Interactive Inc. On May 22, 2019, a long queue of mountain climbers line a path on Mount Everest. About half a dozen climbers died on Everest last week most while descending from the congested summit during only a few windows of good weather each May. 

According to AP, officials said the mission has been "successful," but that some of the trash still covered by snow will need to be collected once temperatures rise. Additionally, 300 climbers have died on Everest since 1953, but officials are unsure of how many bodies are still on the mountain

While the exact amount of garbage on the mountain is unknown, climbers report that human excrement, used oxygen bottles, torn tents, ropes, broken ladders, cans and plastic wrappers litter the slopes from decades of climbing, according to Reuters. 

This could potentially be the busiest climbing season on record — increasing the risk of death and the amount of trash left behind. 

With at least 11 people losing their lives, this has been the deadliest climbing season on Mount Everest since 2015. Nepal issued 381 permits — the highest number ever — which has contributed to the chaos on the mountain and the excessive amount of trash. 

a close up of a mountain: Nepal Everest Garbage © Niranjan Shrestha / AP Nepal Everest Garbage
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