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May 10, 2011 at 11:44pm IST

Ex-Nepal foreign minister dies in Everest bid

Kathmandu: An 82-year-old former Nepalese foreign minister has died on the slopes of Mount Everest while attempting to become the oldest person to climb the world's highest mountain, an official said on Tuesday.

Shailendra Kumar Upadhyay was returning from the first camp set on the slopes of Everest back down to the base camp when he collapsed on Monday evening, Mountaineering Department official Tilak Pandey told The Associated Press by telephone.

He was going back the base camp to get medical attention because he was not feeling well.

Upadhyay was trying to break the record set by a Nepalese climber who scaled the peak at the age of 76.

Upadhyay's climbing companions gave him some water and oxygen after he collapsed on the icy trails, but he died, likely from high-altitude sickness, a common cause of death among mountain climbers, Pandey said.

His body was expected to be airlifted to the capital, Katmandu, later on Tuesday.

Upadhyay served as Nepal's foreign minister from 1986-90 and was the country's representative to the United Nations from 1972-78.

He was trying to break the record set by a Nepalese climber who scaled the 29,035-foot (8,850-meter) peak at the age of 76.

Several dozen climbers are currently at Everest's base camp hoping to scale the peak this month. May is considered the best time to climb Everest because the weather usually becomes favourable for a few days.