SANTIAGO, Chile - Seven Chilean trekkers died during an expedition on a glacier in Patagonia after being trapped in an ice storm, rescue officials said Tuesday.
Rescuers found four of the dead hikers frozen on the ice Monday and two more early Tuesday. The last missing person -- the only woman on the trek -- was found a few hours later. Three other members of the excursion survived by hiding in a crevice in the glacier until the storm blew over and eventually made their way to a nearby town to get help.
``The bodies were seen from the air and were completely frozen,'' Jose Mellado, an Army rescue official, told Reuters. All the deaths were caused by hypothermia, officials said. The young mountain climbers, all but two of whom were university students, set out on Dec. 14 to climb San Valentin mountain on Campos de Hielo, an expanse of ice and snow fields and mountains in southern Chile. All were experienced trekkers. Chilean newspapers said police had warned the organizers of the expedition as early as March 2002 not to carry out the trip because of the chance of unstable weather.