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Mountaineers on Everest in 2009. Photo: STR/AFP/Getty Images

Nepal rejects claims that recent deaths on Mount Everest resulted from overcrowding or government negligence, a government spokesman tells Axios.

Why it matters: Nepali authorities are under pressure to limit the number of permits issued for mountaineers to climb the 29,028 foot peak after the 11 recent deaths, 9 of which came on the Nepali side of Everest. Nepal doesn’t place strict limitations on who can attempt the climb.

  • A record 381 permits were issued this season during a narrow window of improved weather. With support teams, there were upwards of 600 total climbers, per the BBC.
  • The New York Times described “a crowded, unruly scene reminiscent of Lord of the Flies” near the summit, and reported that climbers were left exposed to the elements for extended periods due to overcrowding.
  • This has been the 4th deadliest climbing season on record. The deadliest came in 2015 when a massive earthquake triggered an avalanche.

Nepali Minister for Information and Communication Gokul Prasad Baskota tells Axios that climbing Everest is “a life threatening adventure” and the government should not be blamed for accidents that occur in such an unpredictable environment.

  • Baskota said the government would work to improve weather forecasts and look into other possible precautions, but said climbers and tour guides should ensure their own fitness and training.

The bottom line: Nepal is home to 8 of the world’s 10 highest peaks and mountaineering is vital to the country's tourism industry, with $5 million flowing directly to the government last year, and many other sectors benefiting.

  • Climbers eyeing Everest pay around $45,000 to expedition companies on average, and some pay much more. Around $11,000 goes to the Nepali government for permits.
  • With all that money involved, there is stiff competition to bring clients to the top of the world. Now, calls for stiffer regulations are growing louder.

Go deeper

California governor declares drought emergency for entire state

California Gov. Gavin Newsom speakinng to reporters in Los Angeles in September. Photo: Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) extended a drought emergency declaration to cover the entire state on Tuesday.

Why it matters: "California is experiencing its worst drought since the late 1800s, as measured by both lack of precipitation and high temperatures," per a statement from the governor's office. This past August was the driest and hottest one on record, "and the water year that ended last month was the second driest on record," the statement added.

Updated 3 hours ago - World

Reports: Brazil leader to be accused of crimes against humanity over COVID

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. Photo: Andressa Anholete/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A Brazilian Senate panel will recommend President Jair Bolsonaro be charged with "crimes against humanity," alleging his COVID-19 pandemic response led to hundreds of thousands of deaths, per the New York Times and the Washington Post.

The latest: The lawmakers initially said Bolsonaro should be charged with mass homicide and genocide, but lawmakers updated the report to replace these recommendations with the new charge, its lead author, Sen. Renan Calheiros, told the NYT.

Updated 6 hours ago - World

North Korea claims latest missile test new weapon launched from submarine

North Korean state media claims the country's military fired this missile on Tuesday. Photo: Korean Central News Agency

North Korean state media announced that a detected ballistic missile launch off its east coast on Tuesday was a newly developed weapon test-fired from a submarine.

Why it matters: Pyongyang's latest in a series of recent missile launches into the sea happened hours after U.S. officials emphasized their commitment to restart negotiations on North Korea's nuclear weapons program, which have stalled since talks broke down during the Trump administration, AP notes.