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ATMANDU, Nepal — An avalanche swept down a climbing route on Mount Everest early Friday, killing at least 12 Nepalese guides and leaving three missing in the deadliest disaster on the world's highest peak.

The Sherpa guides had gone early in the morning to fix ropes for other climbers when the avalanche hit just them below Camp 2 about 6:30 a.m., Nepal Tourism Ministry official Krishna Lamsal said from the base camp where he is monitoring rescue efforts.

Rescue workers pulled out 12 bodies from under mounds of snow and ice and were searching for the three missing guides, Lamsal said.

Two Sherpas who were injured were taken by helicopter to hospitals in Nepal's capital, Katmandu.

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