At 4,750 meters (15,580 feet) above sea level, Klyuchevskaya Sopka is one of the highest active volcanoes in the world.
Russia’s Ministry of Civil Defense, Emergencies and Disaster Relief told state media that rescuers were climbing to reach survivors. Survivors are split between camps about 3,300 meters (10,826 feet) and volcanoes above 3,000 meters. 4,150 meters (13,500 feet).
The ministry said rescuers hope to reach the camp by midnight and reopen the camp by dawn the next morning. Their progress is made more difficult by dangerous and unpredictable conditions such as high winds, frigid temperatures and snow at high altitudes.
“The results of search and rescue operations are dependent on weather, ash clouds on slopes, melting glaciers, mudslides and falling rocks,” the ministry said.
Earlier search and rescue attempts to reach the trapped individuals fell through on Sunday, a day after five members of the group died, as high winds prevented the helicopter from landing on the volcano. By Monday morning, he had three more dead, Russia’s Kamchatka Deputy Prime Minister Roman Vasilevsky told RIA Novosti.
The emergency minister for the region where the volcano is located has opened an information hotline for relatives of the expedition, a spokesperson told RIA Novosti.
“Relatives can get information on the progress of the search and rescue operation, as well as psychological help if needed,” a ministry spokesman said.
RIA Novosti reported that criminal proceedings had been launched to investigate the cause of death.