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Google engineer dies in Everest avalanche after Nepal quake

Dan Fredinburg, an engineer in Google's Project X division, was among more than a dozen climbers killed in avalanche set off by Nepal's massive earthquake.

Dan Fredinburg posted this image of himself at Mount Everest's base camp the day before he died in an avalanche on the mountain. Dan Fredinburg/VIA Instagram

A Google engineer was killed in an avalanche on Mount Everest triggered by a massive earthquake that rocked Nepal on Saturday.

Dan Fredinburg was among at least 17 climbers killed when an avalanche set off by the 7.8-magnitude earthquake rolled into the climbers' base camp on the world's tallest mountain. Fredinburg's death was announced in a message posted to Fredinburg's Instagram account by his sister.

"This is Dan's little sister Megan," the message said. "I regret to inform all who loved him that during the avalanche on Everest early this morning our Dan suffered from a major head injury and didn't make it."

His death was confirmed by Google, which indicated that three other Google employees were on the mountain with Fredinburg at the time of the avalanche.

"Sadly, we lost one of our own in this tragedy," Lawrence You, Google's director of privacy, wrote in a blog post. "Dan Fredinburg, a longtime member of the Privacy organization in Mountain View, was in Nepal with three other Googlers, hiking Mount Everest. He has passed away. The other three Googlers with him are safe, and we are working to get them home quickly."

Fredinburg, who had been a Google employee since 2007, headed up privacy for Google X, the search giant's secretive research division, according to his LinkedIn profile. He was involved in such projects as Google's self-driving car and Project Loon, an initiative that seeks to deliver Internet access to under-served areas of the world via air balloon.

A self-described "Google adventurer," Fredinburg was also involved with Google's Street View and led several expeditions to Nepal to add imagery of the Khumo region around Mount Everest, according to his LinkedIn profile. He also led expeditions to some of the planet's most remote regions to add imagery of Mount Everest, Kilimanjaro, Aconcagua, and Mount Elbrus to Google's vast collection of eye-level images.

"While there's nothing quite like standing on the mountain, with Google Maps you can instantly transport yourself to the top of these peaks and enjoy the sights without all of the avalanches, rock slides, crevasses, and dangers from altitude and weather that mountaineers face," Fredinburg wrote in a company blog post in 2013.

More than 2,400 people are feared dead and 5,900 injured in Nepal as a result of the devastating earthquake. As part of the relief effort, Google said it has launched its traditional "person finder" tool for Nepal to help people find loved ones in the aftermath of the quake and "is working to get updated satellite imagery to aid in the recovery effort." Google says it is committing $1 million to the quake response.