After a deadly avalanche Friday on Mount Everest that left at least 13 dead and three missing,Discovery Channel is canceling its live Mount Everest jump broadcast, scheduled for May 11.
The network released a statement Sunday saying, "In light of the overwhelming tragedy at Mt Everestand respect for the families of the fallen, Discovery Channel will not be going forward with Everest Jump Live. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the whole Sherpa community."
The Associated Press and other outlets report that all of the victims were from Nepal's ethnic Sherpa community, in which many earn income as climbing guides and others cater to foreign visitors by providing food, equipment or transportation.
Discovery's Mount Everest prime-time special had been in the works for months. In February, the network announced that climber Joby Ogwyn was set to scale the summit of Everest and then jump off it in a wing suit, on live TV, for the broadcast. It would be the latest real-time spectacle — something that could be a social media hit. The network lured 13 million viewers (and a million tweets) in June for Skywire Live with Nik Wallenda, the most-watched program in the network's history.
Ogwyn posted on Facebook over the weekend: "I am safe at base camp but I have lost my Sherpa team in the avalanche yesterday. These men were the salt of the Earth. Far better men than me. My heart is broken."
Leading up to Ogwyn's jump, Discovery had planned to air five nights of live programs from Everest titled Everest: Live From Base Camp and simulcast on Science Channel and Discovery en Español.
NBC News' Willie Geist was to serve as host, joined by The Weather Channel's meteorologist Jim Cantore, who would be tracking the mountain's weather conditions from a studio in New York.
Kyle Martino of NBC Sports and Chris Jacobs of Discovery and Velocity were set to deliver on-the-ground updates at Everest Base Camp.
Contributing: Gary Levin and Ann Oldenburg