Despite potential problems, the climbing season kicked off at the end of March, after the first expedition left Kathmandu. From there, climbers travel by plane to Lukla, the town that serves as the starting point for the 10-day trek to base camp. Once at camp, they spend weeks there acclimating to the altitude and waiting for a window of clear weather to attempt the summit.

Sandro Gromen-Hayes, a filmmaker who documented a British Army expedition of Everest in 2017, said Thamel, the area of Kathmandu popular with broke backpackers, was quieter this year.

“It was swarmed with trekkers and climbers and stoners and everything in between,” he said of his previous visit. “Now Thamel is much quieter.”

Mr. Gromen-Hayes, 31, came to Nepal from Pakistan, where he filmed an expedition on K2, the world’s second highest peak, which is known because of its ferocious winds as “the savage mountain.” Usually bereft of climbers in winter, it saw dozens of top mountaineers who had been cooped up for months in virus lockdowns and then flocked to K2 in December to make an attempt.

Among the climbing community, “I don’t think a lot of people are concerned about the corona angle,” he said.

Some climbers, like Mr. Pattison, the former N.F.L. player, said they were drawn to Mount Everest this year because they assumed it would be less crowded. But Nepal expects more climbers to apply for licenses beyond the more than 300 who have already, said Mira Acharya, the director of Nepal’s tourism department.

Mr. Pattison plans to trek in surgical gloves and gown, trading in his face mask for an oxygen mask only when he begins the arduous climb from base camp to the peak.

The record books are motivating Mr. Pattison. He has already climbed the six other peaks on the other continents. Should he climb Mt. Everest, he will be the oldest N.F.L. player to have surmounted the Seven Summits, as the peaks are known, and the first to climb Everest and then clamber up neighboring Lhotse, at 27,940 feet the world’s fourth-highest peak, within 24 hours.

“I’ve been at this for nine years,” Mr. Pattison said. Despite the pandemic, he added, “I’m ready to go.”

Bhadra Sharma reported from Kathmandu, Nepal, and Emily Schmall from New Delhi.

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Taiwan Crash Investigators Focus on How Truck Fell in Train’s Path

HUALIEN, Taiwan — Two days after Taiwan’s deadliest rail disaster in decades, investigators were working on Sunday to determine why a truck had slipped downhill from a construction site into the path of an express train, resulting in the collision and derailment that killed dozens of people.

The operator of the crane truck, Lee Yi-hsiang, was ordered detained on Sunday by a judge, who reversed an earlier decision to grant him bail. Mr. Lee, who has not been charged with a crime, told reporters he had caused the crash and said he would take full responsibility for it.

“I hereby express my deep regret and my sincerest apologies,” Mr. Lee said, his voice choking as he bowed in apology.

But investigators were still trying to determine whether Mr. Lee had neglected to use the emergency brake, or if the truck had malfunctioned in some way. Mr. Lee told reporters on Saturday that he had engaged the brake.

survivors and relatives of the dead have shown more grief than anger. Taiwan’s last serious train crash, in 2018, was found to have been caused by driver’s negligence, but initial impressions were that the collision on Friday was something more like a freak accident.

Some family members said they did not want to assign responsibility for the disaster before the government had finished its investigation, which the authorities said would take about two months.

“I don’t want to blame anyone,” Wu Ming-yu, 68, said on Sunday, as she sat with family members under a tent at a funeral home in Hualien, a city south of the crash site on Taiwan’s east coast. They were waiting for a mortuary makeup artist to finish work on the body of Ms. Wu’s daughter, Huang Chiao-ling, a 35-year-old nurse who had been on her way to see her family.

Still, Ms. Wu said she was concerned that the construction site may have fallen short of safety standards. “You have to ensure the safety of the construction, because if you don’t you will end up hurting other people,” said Ms. Wu.

The construction project had been commissioned by Taiwan’s transportation ministry to improve the safety of the slope near the crash site, which occurred on a steep mountainside on the Pacific coast. It was part of a larger, six-year plan to enhance railway safety in Taiwan. Mr. Lee, the operator of the crane truck, was also the project’s site manager.

“It’s ironic and very unfortunate,” said Yusin Lee, a professor of civil engineering and director of the Center for Railway Studies at National Cheng Kung University in the southern city of Tainan. “It’s a reminder that even when we have safety-targeted construction projects, we still have to keep safety in mind.”

At a news conference on Sunday, officials said that Lee Yi-hsiang may have concealed part of his background when he applied to be the project’s site manager.

Su Chih-wu, a quality control engineer on the site, said by telephone that workers had nearly finished the project, which was focused on reinforcing the structure of a train tunnel running parallel to the one where the crash occurred.

He also said that there should not have been workers at the site on Friday, since it was the first day of a long holiday weekend. It was not clear on Sunday whether Lee Yi-hsiang or anyone else had been at the site that day.

Another engineer on the project, Yang Chin-lang, rejected the idea that his team had failed to ensure an adequate level of safety. “I didn’t do anything wrong,” he said by telephone. Both Mr. Yang and Mr. Su said they had been interviewed by prosecutors on Saturday.

“I just followed the design blueprints and did my job,” Mr. Yang added.

The crash occurred near Qingshui Cliff, an area where mountains rise dramatically from the Pacific Ocean. Experts say the difficult terrain has long presented a challenge to transportation engineers, and many accidents have happened on the winding highway there over the years. But the rail and highway routes are an essential link between Taipei, the capital, and the east coast.

Feng Hui Sheng, deputy director of the Taiwan Railways Administration, said in an interview on Sunday that the agency had made continual safety improvements to its systems and equipment since the 2018 crash.

He said that those changes would continue and that the authorities would also seek to improve the network’s signal and alarm systems and upgrade track safety. But he also acknowledged that broader changes might happen slowly.

“When it comes to the innovation and reform of the system,” he added, “we are more conservative.”

Joy Dong reported from Hong Kong.

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They Survived Taiwan’s Train Crash. Their Loved Ones Did Not.

HUALIEN, Taiwan — Crawling through the smoky wreckage, she first found her husband and son pinned under luggage lockers and mangled steel, but they weren’t breathing. Then she called her daughter’s name. A faint voice responded: “I’m over here.”

Following the voice, Hana Kacaw found her daughter underneath a mass of metal train parts. She tried pulling pieces of the wreckage off, but it was no use. “Please hold on,” she urged. “Someone is coming to rescue us.’

“I can’t hang on any longer,” her daughter responded, according to Ms. Kacaw. Those were her last words.

Just like that, Ms. Kacaw had lost her husband of more than 20 years and their 21-year-old son and 20-year-old daughter, both promising athletes in college. They were among the 51 people who were killed on Friday when a train derailed along Taiwan’s east coast in the island’s worst such disaster in four decades. Others who died included the train’s two drivers, at least two young children, as well as a French national and an American.

The eight-car Taroko Express train had been nearly full, with about 490 passengers — including 120 or so who held standing-room-only tickets — on the first day of a long holiday weekend in Taiwan. The authorities say the train, which was bound for the eastern city of Taitung, probably collided with a construction vehicle that had rolled down a slope onto the track, then slammed into a tunnel.

The authorities, who have pledged a thorough investigation, said on Saturday that a suspect had been questioned and then released on bail. The government also said that it might compensate families about $190,000 for each deceased person, although it would finalize the amount later.

By Saturday, rescuers had saved all those they presumed had survived, and were using excavators to try to pull out the train cars. The casualties were the greatest in several train cars — numbered 5 to 8 — that were stuck deep inside the tunnel. Ms. Kacaw, who had been in Car 8, at the front of the train, had eventually found her way out of the tunnel on her own.

After spending a sleepless night in a hotel, she joined dozens of other grieving relatives on Saturday in the grim, painful task of identifying remains and saying their goodbyes.

They gathered at a temporary support center that had been set up under tents outside a funeral home in Hualien, a city south of the crash site. They took turns entering a morgue where bodies were being kept, and many emerged shaken and distraught. Some discussed funeral arrangements and reviewed autopsy reports, while volunteers, Christian pastors and Buddhist monks — and even President Tsai Ing-wen, briefly — offered comfort.

For some families, grief has been complicated by uncertainty. Some relatives were frustrated that they had been unable to identify their loved ones, but officials said they were hoping that DNA samples would help. The impact of the crash was so great and the destruction so severe, the officials explained, that in several train cars, rescuers could only extricate human remains in parts.

Inside these train cars, the acrid smell of blood hung in the air, said Zeng Wen-Long, a volunteer Red Cross rescue worker, in an interview. It was there, also in Car 8, that Mr. Zeng’s team found 5-year-old Yang Chi-chen, who had been traveling with her older sister and father, wedged under a chair.

More than an hour passed before the team had reached her on Friday, and she was already very weak. Mr. Zeng said he had carried her to her father, Max Yang, who was leaning against the tunnel and had called out to the rescuers, asking to hold the motionless child.

Mr. Yang, 42, said he had tried calling to her to wake her up. Several times, he said, her eyes would flutter open before closing again. “I’m sorry,” Mr. Yang told her.

By the time they got to a hospital, Mr. Yang said, Chi-chen had died. She was one of the youngest victims. Her 9-year-old sister remains in intensive care.

On Saturday, Mr. Yang returned to the site of the crash — a tunnel running through verdant mountains overlooking the Pacific Ocean — with other grieving relatives to “call back the soul,” a traditional Taoist mourning ritual typically performed for victims of an accident.

Facing the placid blue waters, the family members called out to their loved ones who had perished in the crash.

“Come home!” they yelled toward the tunnel, where workers in yellow hard hats had halted work on restoring the damaged railway track and removing the train carriages. “It’s time to go now!”

Mr. Yang said that Chi-Chen, a rambunctious girl, had been excited to spend the long holiday weekend at an ocean-themed amusement park in Hualien, known for its dolphin show.

“Yang Chi-chen, stop playing in the water now, we’re leaving!” wailed Mr. Yang, who still had a catheter in his hand and bandages on his bruised cheek. “We’re going to take the bus to have fun somewhere else!”

On a viewing platform above the other families, Ms. Kacaw, the woman who had lost her husband and two children, wept quietly as a Christian pastor led a prayer.

Both her son, Kacaw, and her daughter, Micing, had been students and track stars at the National Taiwan Sport University in Taoyuan, a city near Taipei. They were a tight-knit family and maintained a deep connection to their Indigenous ethnic group, the Amis.

Ms. Kacaw said she had enjoyed playing badminton with her daughter in their neighborhood in New Taipei City and listening to her son play the guitar. She said the children had been introverts, just like their father, Siki Takiyo, whom she described as a soft-spoken university administrator.

Now, all three of them were gone, and Ms. Kacaw’s grief was compounded by guilt as she struggled to understand how they could have died while she survived.

She said she could not stop thinking about how she had asked her children to go back to their ancestral home in eastern Taiwan. She had wanted them to see their grandparents and pay their respects at their ancestors’ graves. The children had agreed even though her daughter had a track meet and her son had been preparing for exams.

On Friday morning, the family missed the train they had originally booked. A kindly ticket seller on the platform had offered to upgrade them to the Taroko Express, which would get them there faster. On the train, she had taken a seat at the back of the first car, while her husband and children had been at the front — the part of the train that would later absorb the greatest impact.

To Ms. Kacaw, the seeming randomness of it all was unbearable.

“Why didn’t I go with them?” she asked, in tears. “Why did I ask my children to come home with me?”

After the prayer, she sat in a wheelchair, dazed, a large cotton bandage across her forehead. Tears streamed down her face as she stared out at the ocean. A light rain began to fall.

“My only wish is for them to come into my dreams tonight,” she said.

Joy Dong reported from Hong Kong.

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Julie Pomagalski, Former Olympic Snowboarder, Is Killed in an Avalanche

Julie Pomagalski, a two-time Olympian for France in snowboarding and a former world champion, was killed in an avalanche in the Swiss Alps on Tuesday, French sports officials said on Wednesday. She was 40.

The accident occurred in the canton of Uri, according to the Swiss authorities, who said that Ms. Pomagalski was among a group of four people who had been freeriding on a mountain, Gemsstock, when a slab of snow broke loose for unexplained reasons. Freeriding is snowboarding or skiing on ungroomed backcountry terrain, in contrast to a course.

Three of them were swept away by the avalanche, with two dying and one person hospitalized, a police report said. The French ski federation identified the other person who was killed as Bruno Cutelli, a guide and a mountain rescue unit member.

A helicopter and two search dogs responded to the mountain, but Ms. Pomagalski and Mr. Cutelli had been completely buried by the time they arrived, the authorities said.

European Avalanche Warning Services, 85 people have been killed in avalanches across the continent so far in the 2020-21 season. Europe averages about 100 avalanche fatalities annually, the organization said.

Colorado Avalanche Information Center, which tracks fatalities in every state. The total number of fatalities for all of last season was 23.

Ms. Pomagalski was born Oct. 10, 1980, in La Tronche, France, which is near Grenoble. Details about her survivors were not immediately available.

She came from a line of alpine sporting enthusiasts.

In 1934, her grandfather Jean Pomagalski, a 29-year-old engineer at the time, invented the first surface lift in Alpe d’Huez in the French Alps, according to a history of the Poma Group, a company he founded. The lift carried skiers about 705 feet and a vertical distance of about 210 feet, according to the company’s website. The Poma lift name became widely associated with chair lifts.

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AstraZeneca Vaccine Is Safe, Europe’s Drug Regulator Says

The European Union’s drug regulator said on Thursday that the AstraZeneca vaccine was safe and effective, but that a warning label will be added to it, a finding that officials hope will alleviate concerns about possible side effects and prompt more than a dozen countries to resume using it against the resurgent coronavirus.

A review of millions of people who received vaccine found that it does not increase the risk of blood clots, though “there are still some uncertainties,” said Dr. Sabine Straus, who heads the European Medicines Agency’s risk assessment committee. A new warning will be added so that people in the medical community can be on the lookout for a potential rare complication leading to bleeding in the brain.

But the pause in using it, however brief, threatens lingering consequences both in Europe, which is struggling to contain a new wave of infection, and around the world.

Europe is not inoculating people quickly enough to slow transmission of the virus there, the World Health Organization said on Thursday, reporting that new infections had risen for three successive weeks and that more people in the region were dying from the disease than a year ago.

AstraZeneca vaccine shot, sold without the goal of earning a profit, is a keystone of the W. H.O.’s effort to inoculate poor and middle-income countries.

“This is a safe and effective vaccine,” said Emer Cooke, the head of the European regulator.

A fearful public may not be easily reassured.

“I haven’t decided yet whether I am going to get vaccinated or not,” said Giada Pietrolillo, a kindergarten teacher in Calabria, at the southern tip of Italy. “I am not sure I trust anyone any more.”

While the vast majority of the roughly 20 million people in Europe who have received the AstraZeneca shot suffered no serious side effects, Dr. Straus said, there were a handful of troubling cases of cerebral venous thrombosis, an abnormal clot formation, leading to brain bleeds, in patients who had low platelet counts. The evidence, she said, is not conclusive as to whether it is related to the vaccine

a move intended to reassure the public that all concerns were being treated seriously, adding that they would await guidance from the regulator. Most of the countries signaled that they were likely to restart using the vaccine once the agency issued clearance.

Despite their differences, all the vaccines approved by Western regulators have shown themselves to be remarkably effective at reducing severe illness and death. And though the AstraZeneca vaccine accounts for less than 20 percent of the hundreds of millions of doses ordered by the European Union, it was a critical part of early rollout plans.

With infections again on the rise in many European countries, the cost of delay may be measured in lives.

In just one week in January, at the height of the last wave, Europe recorded nearly 40,000 deaths.

This week, more people are on ventilators in hospitals in Poland than at any time in the pandemic, leading officials to reimpose national restrictions, starting on Saturday. Italy has reimposed lockdowns in the hopes of limiting outbreaks. Across the continent, there is rising concern about the spread of variants of the virus.

struggling to find enough beds in intensive care units.

President Emmanuel Macron of France said on Wednesday: “We are living through the hardest weeks now. We know it.”

sitting on some 30 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which has yet to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Even Britain, which moved quickly to procure vaccines and has been rapidly administering doses to most people over the age of 50, has been forced to shift its strategy in part to deal with dips in supply.

Starting late last year, British regulators chose to allow an increased gap between the two doses of vaccine required for maximum protection: up to 12 weeks, rather than the three weeks used in clinical trials.

That has allowed Britain to give initial protection to about 25 million people. But many of those will soon need a second dose, putting pressure on the system and leading officials to warn that distribution in April will move slower.

restore faith in the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Concerns about it arose from reports of a small number of people who developed dangerous blood clots or abnormal bleeding after receiving the shot.

Different reports about potential side effects were conflated and a growing number of countries halted use of the shot.

The most concerning came from Norway and Germany, involving cases where blockage develops in veins that drain blood from the brain in patients who also had lowered platelets.

After several cases came to the attention of Paul Ehrlich Institute, the agency in charge of vaccine safety in Germany, the use of the vaccine was halted. A cascade of other European countries quickly followed suit. .

Klaus Cichutek, the head of the institute, said that it had acted after seven cases of cerebral venous thrombosis had occurred four to 16 days after vaccination.

An analysis by the institute suggested that only a single case would normally be expected among the 1.6 million people who received the vaccine in that time window.

The institute said that it had convened a group of experts on Monday and that they had agreed unanimously that a link to the vaccine was not implausible and should be investigated.

Ms. Cooke said that it was important to closely monitor all side effects.

“We are also launching additional investigations to understand more about these rare cases,” she said. But the regulatory agency found that it the benefits of the vaccine — at a moment when thousands are still dying around the world every day — outweighed the risk.

“If it was me,” Ms. Cooke said. “I would be vaccinated tomorrow.”

Reporting was contributed byNick Cumming-Bruce from Geneva and Gaia Pianigiani from Rome.

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