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September 24, 2009

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Everest skydivers claim record

THREE skydivers claim to have made the highest parachute landing on record at a drop zone high in the Himalayas of Nepal, officials said yesterday.

The feat comes only a year after the previous world record was set in the same area when Nepal first started allowing skydiving in the high altitudes around Mount Everest.

Brits Leo Dickinson, 62, and Ralph Mitchell, 24, and Indian Ramesh Tripathi, 45, jumped from 6,100 meters on Tuesday and landed on Gorakshep, a frozen lake bed 5,165 meters above sea level near Mount Everest, said Surendra Sapkota, chief of Nepal's mountaineering department.

The previous world record landing was also in the shadow of Mount Everest at a drop zone of 3,764 meters.

Sapkota said officials from his department, police and the home ministry escorted the skydivers to the area and saw the jump. They were still trying to confirm whether it was a record.

Dickinson told reporters in the Nepal's capital, Katmandu, that after he jumped, he got a glimpse of Mount Everest before opening his parachute and saw "a panorama of fantastic mountains."

The divers were in free fall for about five seconds before opening their parachutes and gliding down to the landing zone.

Sapkota said the government started allowing skydiving because it would add to the list of adventures Nepal had to offer. The landlocked mountain nation plans to celebrate Visit Nepal Year in 2011 to attract more tourists.

Tourism is one of the Nepal's biggest foreign currency earners with tens of thousands of tourists coming to trek in the Himalayas every year.


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