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Three bodies found on Mount Rainier near where climbers vanished

By Victoria Cavaliere

SEATTLE (Reuters) - Three bodies have been discovered on Mount Rainier near where six hikers disappeared while trying to summit Washington state's highest peak in May, the National Park Service said on Tuesday.

The bodies were spotted last week on a very dangerous part of the mountain during a search using helicopters, said Patti Wold, a spokeswoman for Mount Rainier National Park.

"We are assessing the risk of different options of trying to remove those bodies," she said.

Wold said that until the bodies are recovered it could not be confirmed they were among the six climbers who set off in late May for a five-day trek up one of the toughest ascents of the ice-covered 14,100-foot mountain.

The climbers, including two professional guides and Intel Corp Vice President Uday Marty, were last heard from via satellite phone about two days into their journey, when they had reached a height of 12,800 feet.

The climbers appear to have fallen or been struck by an avalanche of snow, rock and other debris and were presumed dead, park officials said.

The climbers were attempting to summit via the Liberty Ridge hike, considered one of the most technically difficult climbs on the mountain.

(Reporting by Victoria Cavaliere; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Eric Beech)

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