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Miracle on Everest: Adventist climber escapes death from avalanche after earthquake in Nepal

“Amid the flood, God took my hand,” recounts the survivor

Miracle on Everest: Adventist climber escapes death from avalanche after earthquake in Nepal

Ernesto Olivares (right) in Nepal. Avalanche passed 50 meters from him and the group of climbers. [photo: Ernesto Olivares, SAD]

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Ernesto Olivares Miranda, a Seventh-day Adventist from Chile, is a member of a team of mountaineers who were on Mount Everest when the 7.8 magnitude earthquake rocked Nepal on Saturday, April 25.

“We were at the base camp when it began to tremble. The glacier sounded with movement and cracking. The clouds that covered the surrounding mountains did not allow us to see much. Suddenly, the noise began to get louder, echoing through the mountains, and it sounded like something was coming closer, but we couldn’t see anything,” Olivares Miranda said. 

Olivares and his team were at a base camp located 17,585 feet (5,360 meters) above sea level. 

“There were eternal seconds of uncertainty. We looked back and saw a cloud of snow approaching at a high speed. We decided to wait a few seconds to see if it was going to hit us. It was in that moment when we decided to throw ourselves onto the ice next to a pile of rocks,” Olivares said. “For a few seconds we felt a strong wind pass over us and snow began to fall.”

Olivares also told the South American News Agency (ASN) of the bleak scene from the aftermath. “We helped to rescue the injured, and just covered the dead. Those were very sad days. The majority of those killed were chefs and their assistants,” he said.

Olivares and his team were 50 meters from where the avalanche passed.

“In that moment I asked God to allow me to hug my family one more time. I remembered Psalm 91, ‘for he will command his angels concerning you…so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” Olivares told the Adventist University of Chile Radio, “in that moment I clung to that promise.”

Hours later, personnel from the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) made contact with Olivares via WhatsApp and received a report of Olivares’ location and condition.

On Wednesday, April 29, Landerson Serpa, director of ADRA Bangladesh, and friend of the Chilean, informed ASN that the team Olivares was leading is still on the mountain waiting for help. “He is awaiting rescue at the Everest basecamp together with hundreds of isolated mountain climbers, they are well, but sad for the 20 people who died in the avalanche,” Serpa reported.

Chilean media disclosed that since the quake, Olivares and his team have been assisting rescue workers. Olivares told the Chile Adventist University Radio that his team will also descend Everest to visit more basecamps “with the hope of being able to help.”