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After quake and avalanche, Everest climber not yet ready to quit

By Douglas Busvine

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Climber Nick Cienski has not given up on his world record bid to scale six 8,000-metre peaks this calendar year, despite narrowly escaping a huge avalanche on Mount Everest on Saturday set off by an earthquake that killed thousands of people in Nepal.

The avalanche unleashed by the 7.9 magnitude quake blew tents, people and gear hundreds of feet, only just missing his team, the Canadian told Reuters on Monday by satellite telephone from base camp.

A day after helping to recover the bodies of 12 of at least 17 avalanche victims, Cienski agonised over whether to continue his quest in the poor Himalayan nation struck by a greater tragedy. More than 3,700 people have died.

"We are still sorting through a lot of emotions; 24 hours ago we were wrapping people's body parts in bags," said Cienski, speaking over the noise of helicopters evacuating climbers two-by-two from further up the world's tallest peak.

"So on the one hand the reality of that ... and on the second hand, we are climbers and this is sort of what we do.

"And so, does it make sense to continue?" said Cienski, an executive with a U.S. outdoor apparel firm.

Injured avalanche survivors were flown down the mountain on Sunday, but many of the more than 300 foreign climbers attempting to scale Everest were staying put for the time being.

Phil Crampton, expedition leader of New York-based climbing outfit Altitude Junkies, said on Sunday that many teams were hunkering down. It wasn't yet clear whether his team would pull out of base camp or press on.

Crampton was on the 8,850-metre (29,035-foot) mountain a year ago when an avalanche struck the Khumbu icefalls, killing 16 sherpa mountain guides, in what was until now the worst climbing tragedy on Everest.

"I think we are all just going to wait and see what happens," he told Reuters by phone from the camp.

"I'm not familiar with any teams leaving base camp yet. I think a few teams went down the valley for a few days. They plan to return."

SHERPAS GONE

Last year's avalanche killed only sherpas who, unlike their foreign employers, have to run the gauntlet through the treacherous Khumbu icefalls many times to ferry equipment and supplies to advanced camps.

Fury among the sherpas caused the cancellation of last year's climbing season and led to promises of better pay for the guides, who see a relatively low share of the rewards of the high-end climbing business.

This year, the feeling at Everest base camp was that the earthquake and avalanche were indiscriminate in taking the lives of local and foreign climbers, and so the season may continue. Among those who died were three Americans and one Japanese.

Cienski is backed by a team from Russell Brice's Himalayan Experience which advertises a standard fee of $65,000 to climb Everest. Cienski said most expert sherpas had returned to their villages to see whether their families and homes were safe.

Only if they return, and are willing to press on, would Cienski continue in his Mission 14 quest (mission14.org), through which he is seeking to raise awareness against child sex trafficking.

"For me personally it's probably too early to say how I feel about that. I wouldn't want to continue if it made anybody uncomfortable to continue - sherpas included in that," he said.

Cienski, who first came to the Himalayas as a 21-year-old in 1987, plans to climb Everest, Lhotse and Makalu this spring, followed by Cho Oyo, Shishapangma and Manaslu later in the year in his 6 Summits Challenge (6summitschallenge.org).

"If this is going to happen, it needs to happen quickly," said Cienski, who will climb with separate teams and be flown on from one summit to the next base camp.

"We are sitting on needles and pins a little here."

(Additional reporting by Neha Dasgupta and Clara Ferreira Marques in Mumbai; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and Mike Collett-White)

Mylan rejects Teva offer, but leaves door open

(Reuters) - Mylan NV rejected Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd's unsolicited $40 billion (£26.4 billion) takeover offer on Monday, but left the door open for talks.

"Our board will certainly not consider engaging in discussions to sell the company unless the starting point of the discussions is significantly in excess of $100 per share," Mylan said.

Mylan shares fell 4 percent to $73.09 in early trading, while Teva's slipped about 3 percent to $24.65.

Teva, the world's biggest maker of generic drugs, has offered $82 per share in cash and stock for Mylan.

However, Mylan said a combination with Teva would expose it to a "problematic culture and leadership with poor record of delivering shareholder value."

Mylan also said it remained committed to its offer for Perrigo Co Plc.

Last week, Mylan said it would take its $31 billion offer for Perrigo directly to shareholders, in what is set to be one of the most high-profile hostile takeover attempts of the year.

Mylan's pursuit of Perrigo, a major producer of over-the-counter drugs, is widely seen as an attempt to fend off Teva.

(Reporting by Ankur Banerjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)

Nepal scrambles to organise quake relief, many flee capital

By Gopal Sharma, Rupam Jain Nair and Ross Adkin

KATHMANDU, Nepal (Reuters) - Nepalese officials scrambled on Monday to get aid from the main airport to people left homeless and hungry by a devastating earthquake two days earlier, while thousands tired of waiting fled the capital Kathmandu for the surrounding plains.

By afternoon, the death toll from Saturday's 7.9 magnitude earthquake had climbed to more than 3,700, and reports trickling in from remote areas suggested it would rise significantly.

A senior interior ministry official said it could rise to as high as 5,000, in the worse such disaster in Nepal since 1934, when 8,500 people were killed.

Kathmandu's Tribhuvan International Airport was hobbled by many employees not showing up for work, people trying to get out, and a series of aftershocks which forced it to close several times since the quake.

Home Minister Bam Dev Gautam was supervising aid delivery and arranging for passengers to leave the country.

Government officials said they needed more supplies of food, medicines, specialised rescue services and body bags.

"The morgues are getting totally full," said Shankar Koirala, an official in the Prime Minister's Office who is dealing with the disposal of bodies.

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