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Search for climbers believed killed in avalanche ends

| Sunday, June 17, 2012, 9:02 p.m.

ANCHORAGE -- A shallow avalanche on Alaska's Mount McKinley may not have killed four Japanese climbers, but the slide pushed them into a crevasse more than 100 feet deep, the National Park Service said Sunday.

Spokeswoman Kris Fister said yesterday that the search for the climbers was permanently suspended when a mountaineering ranger found the climbing rope in debris at the bottom of the crevasse.

"We believe this is their final resting place," Fister said.

Yoshiaki Kato, 64; Masako Suda, 50; Michiko Suzuki, 56; and Tamao Suzuki, 63, are missing and presumed dead.

The avalanche early Wednesday morning also pushed Hitoshi Ogi, 69, into the crevasse. Ogi climbed 60 feet out of the crevasse and reached a base camp Thursday.

Ogi had been attached to the other members of the team by climbing rope as they descended in an avalanche-prone section of the West Buttress Route. The rope broke in the avalanche and fall.

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