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Death of Séamus Lawless on Everest 'a freak accident'

Irish climber Séamus Lawless fell because of a freak wind according to his friend and team leader Noel Hanna.

“Séamus was a very strong climber. He had been training for two to three years on different mountains. He had all the experience, he had all the knowledge and all the skills,” Mr Hanna told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland.

“Nature called, he was 200m from camp, so you would think you were safe, but it was on blue ice. The winds started to pick up. The only thing I can think of is that he clipped off the rope and the wind caught him.”

Their climb had been perfect with no queues at the summit as have been seen in the past week. “We had 15- 20 minutes on the summit, we took photos and then started to make our way down the mountain.”

Mr Hanna explained that Mr Lawless was the strongest of the three climbers in the group with him so it was decided that Mr Lawless would push on with the lead Sherpa while Mr Hanna assisted the two other climbers who were having problems with their oxygen masks.

“When we got back to camp the Sherpa told me that Séamus had fallen 200m from camp.”

A search commenced in the area where Mr Lawless had fallen, but within a short time winds had picked up and it was too dangerous to go to the ledge from which he had fallen.

“We searched until dark that evening, unfortunately we couldn’t find anything.”

When asked if he would keep climbing after the death of Mr Lawless, Mr Hanna said: “I’ve had friends killed in car accidents and that doesn’t make me think I won’t drive again.

“This was just a freak accident.”