Nepal earthquake
An injured person is carried by rescue members to be airlifted by rescue helicopter at Everest Base CampRoberto Schmidt/ AFP/Getty Images

Wealthy climbers on Everest have been criticised for using helicopters to flee the Nepal earthquake zone.

The climbers are under fire for not helping relief efforts and for preventing the helicopters being used to help Nepalese people in desperate straits.

Climbers paid up to £4,000 to be flown to the Nepalese cities of Katmandu or Lukla by helicopter. Rob Casserley, a climbing expedition leader who has scaled Everest eight times, told The Times newspaper: "It's totally inappropriate if people are paying a lot of money to get out of the country as quickly as possible. It leaves a really sour taste in the mouth."

Casserley said there are 15-20 agencies that supplied helicopters for wealthy tourists. He believes that the helicopters should be used instead to help reach and assist casualties.

In one instance, two British climbers contacted an agency, paid for a helicopter to airlift them from the earthquake zone and were heard boasting about their upgrade on the plane back to the UK while drinking champagne.

"It's abhorrent and not the message you should be giving out to a country that has been devastated," said Casserley. "It's disgusting really. Helicopters could be well used elsewhere to bring crucial food and supplies to villages."

Casserley's comments follow on a report of fighting between Israeli tourists and locals for places on rescue helicopters in the Langtang area, during which a local was killed accidentally by a rotor blade.

Meanwhile, the UK foreign office has been criticised for failing to assist British nationals in Nepal. Susannah Ross, 20, was trapped in the Langtang national park for five days.

Her sister Nina Ross said that the family had not heard anything to suggest that Susannah had been in touch with the British Embassy or the Foreign Office.

Nina said the Foreign Office's help had been "useless".

European Union officials estimate that around 9,000 EU citizens remain in Nepal following the earthquake. More than 1,000 of them have not yet been contacted. Most of them are believed to have been trekking in the Himalayas. So far the death toll throughout Nepal from the earthquake stands at 6,620, while thousands of others remain unaccounted for.

So far the death toll throughout Nepal from the earthquake stands at 6,620, while thousands of others remain unaccounted for.