South Asia

Former Nepal minister dies during Everest record bid

Shailendra Kumar Upadhyay
Image caption Mr Upadhyay trained hard before his Everest attempt (Picture: Everestexpedia.com)

A former Nepalese foreign minister has died while trying to become the oldest person to climb the world's highest mountain, Mount Everest.

Officials say that Shailendra Kumar Upadhyay, 82, was returning from the mountain to a base camp when he collapsed on Monday evening.

Prime Minister Jhala Nath Kanal said that he was shocked by the death which was "a tragic loss for the nation".

The cause of the death is thought to be related to altitude sickness.

Mr Upadhyay was trying to break the record set by a Nepalese man, Bahadur Sherchan, at the age of 76 in 2008.

The former minister is reported to have complained of health complications when he got to 5,800m (19,000ft).

His climbing companions gave him water and oxygen after he collapsed but could not resuscitate him, officials say.

Altitude sickness - caused by reduced atmospheric pressure and oxygen levels at high altitudes - is a common cause of death among mountaineers in Nepal.

Mr Upadhyay's body is expected to be airlifted to Kathmandu on Tuesday.

As a young political activist he joined Mahatma Gandhi's movement against British rule in India and was imprisoned in December 1960 for protesting against King Mahendra.

After serving in government towards the end of the 1960s he was appointed as a permanent representative of Nepal to the UN from 1972-1978, and served as foreign minister from 1986-1990.

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