Irish father-of-three, 40, dies after being caught in fog while climbing Europe's highest mountain
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Irish father-of-three, 40, dies after being caught in fog while climbing Europe's highest mountain

AN Irish climber has died after being caught in bad weather on a Russian mountain.

Co. Kildare father-of-three Alan Mahon, 40, was descending Mount Elbrus in southern Russia with a number of other Irish mountaineers when they became enveloped in heavy fog on Sunday.

The group were forced to take shelter in a nearby refuge hut and Russia's Ministry of Emergency Situations was called to assist them amid "poor visibility" at an altitude of over 5,000 metres.

Rescuers eventually reached the group several hours after they were alerted to the situation and began bringing them down the mountain to safety.

However, Mr Mahon tragically passed away from a suspected heart attack while being transported down the slope in a cable car at around 3,500 metres.

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A spokesperson for the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations confirmed: "The group lost their way while descending the mountain at the altitude of around 5,250 meters (17,224 feet).

"One Irish tourist, born in 1979, passed away presumably due to heart failure."

Mr Mahon's fellow climbers – from Longford, Meath and Westmeath – were transported to the nearby town of Azau and "do not require medical assistance", officials said.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said it was aware of the case and providing consular assistance.

Mount Elbrus, Europe's highest peak at 5,642m (18,510 ft), is a dormant volcano in the Caucasus Mountains near Russia's southern border with Georgia.

Mr Mahon's death brings the number of Irish climbers who have died on mountains this climbing season to three.

Séamus Lawless, a 39-year-old Trinity College Dublin lecturer from Bray in Co. Wicklow, died while descending from Mount Everest's summit on May 16.

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And Kevin Hynes, a 56-year-old Galway native who was living and working in London, died on May 24 after he became ill on the northern side of Everest in Tibet.