Romanian climber Alex Gavan said on Twitter that three helicopters had reached camps 1 and 2, which are at altitudes of more than 6,000 metres (20,000 feet).

Each helicopter is only capable of carrying two climbers due to the thin air, Gavan added from base camp.

Carsten Lillelund Pedersen, a climber from Denmark, posted a video on Facebook showing a helicopter landing to evacuate two climbers and then taking off again after 30 seconds. The weather conditions were clear.

Survivors on Everest described a cloud of rock and ice that smashed into base camp on Saturday.

More than 60 people were injured, leading climbers to send frantic messages calling for helicopter assistance to evacuate the wounded.

An estimated 100 climbers and guides were safe but trapped at camps 1 and 2 by Saturday's 7.9 magnitude earthquake which rendered the treacherous Khumbu icefalls leading up to them from base camp impassable.

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