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Australian Man Dies Climbing Mount Everest

Three climbers died on Mount Everest on Sunday, and a fourth is missing.

22/05/2017 9:25 AM AEST | Updated 22/05/2017 12:57 PM AEST

An Australian man is among three climbers to die on Mount Everest on Sunday, as high winds and storms saw many climbers abandon summit attempts.

The Australian, whom The Himalayan Times identified as 54-year-old Francesco Enrico Marchetti, reportedly died of altitude sickness while descending on the Tibetan side of the mountain.

It appears Marchetti turned back 800 metres below the summit, after contracting severe altitude sickness.

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Australian man Francesco Enrico Marchetti, 54, has died of altitude sickness while climbing Mount Everest.

"The climber breathed his last at an altitude of 7,500m on Tibetan side when he was descending to lower camps after suffering from altitude sicknesses at around 8,000m on the mountain," an official from the Tibet Mountaineering Association told The Himalayan Times.

The Tibetan side is less travelled than the Nepal side, and is generally considered more dangerous.

An American doctor, Roland Yearwood, also died Sunday not far from the summit on Sunday morning, according to Nepal tourism officials and his trekking company, the Everest Parivas.

His cause of death is not currently known.

The Alabama mountaineer was returning to Everest after surviving the 2015 earthquake triggered by a devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake which killed 9,000 Nepalese people, according to Nepal tourism officials and his trekking company.

A third man, 50-year-old Slovak mountaineer Vladimir Strba, also died from altitude sickness on Sunday afternoon, while an Indian man, Ravi Kumar, has been missing since Saturday after becoming separated from his guide

A record number of climbers are trying to scale Mount Everest this year, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, with 371 foreigners now permitted -- the most since 1953.

Seventy climbers successfully reached the summit on Sunday alone, according to expedition officials.

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Nepal has been struggling to get climbers, vital for its tourism industry, back to the region since a devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck in April 2015, causing an avalanche which killed 22 climbers at Everest base camp.

The high volume of climbers has raised safety concerns as well as fears over environmental degradation.

News of the deaths come as it emerges the famed 'Hillary Step' -- a rocky outcrop just below the summit -- has been destroyed.

Mountaineers posted photos of the crumbling rock on social media, warning that the collapse would make summit attempts more difficult in the future.

The Hillary Step has long been the final test of endurance for mountaineers attempting the world's highest mountain. It was named after the first mountaineer to reach the summit in 1953, Edmund Hillary.

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'It's official - The Hillary Step is no more' posted Everest Expedition on their Facebook page last week.

Five people have died on Everest so far this year.

A famed Swiss climber fell to his death near Mount Everest while preparing to make the ascent on April 30, while on May 5 an 85-year-old Nepali man, Min Bahadur Sherchan, died of a heart attack at the base camp while trying to set the record for oldest person to climb Mount Everest.

Sherchan -- who had previously held the record at the age of 76 -- was trying to reclaim his title from Japanese man, Yuichiro Miura, who summited in 2013 at the age of 80.

In recent years there have been calls to overhaul the way mountaineering is conducted on Everest -- and even for tourist climbs to be halted altogether -- as the mountain has claimed the lives of sherpas and mountaineers each year for the past four decades.

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