Rescuers in Nepal searched Monday for seven missing climbers after an avalanche which killed at least nine people, swept away in their tents ahead of a final push on one of the world's highest mountains. Police said the group of climbers were near the top of the 8,156-metre (26,759-foot) Manaslu, one of the world's deadliest peaks, when they were hit by a wall of snow as they were sleeping overnight from Saturday to Sunday. Four of the dead and three of the missing are French, France's national union of mountain guides (SNGM) told AFP while mountaineering officials in Nepal said an Italian, a German, at least one Spaniard and a Nepali Sherpa had died. "Seven climbers are missing. The rescue efforts were hampered due to bad weather yesterday. They will resume this morning," ministry spokesman Gyanendra Shrestha told AFP. Basanta Bahadur Kunwar, the local deputy superintendent of police, told AFP by telephone that 13 people had been rescued alive. Meanwhile harrowing accounts of the avalanche began to emerge from survivors being treated in Kathmandu. "All of a sudden, there was darkness. I could imagine that we were buried under an avalanche," Andreas Reiter, 26, of Germany, was quoted as telling the Himalayan Times from his hospital bed in the capital. "I witnessed one of the team members die." SNGM vice-president Christian Trommsdorff described the French victims as three mountain guides from the Chamonix area in the Alps and four of their clients, who were part of two expeditions. "The four dead have been identified by their photos and three are missing, as well as two injured who have been evacuated by helicopter to Kathmandu," he said. The avalanche happened at around 7,400 metres and carried away part of camp number three at 6,800 metres, Trommsdorff told AFP.