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Melting glaciers caused by climate change are posing an urgent threat to Mount Everest's unique environment, activists said today as they began a campaign to save the Himalayan mountain range and the world's highest peak.

Lakes have swollen from the runoff, and unless urgent action is taken, many lakes could burst, threatening the lives of thousands of people and destroying the environment, said the campaigners -- a collection of mountaineers, Nepalese climbers and a lobby group Friends of the Earth.

The group will present a petition Thursday in Paris asking UNESCO, the United Nation's cultural agency, to place Nepal's Everest National Park on its World Heritage in Danger List.

Friends of the Earth international climate spokeswoman Catherine Pearce said that it would be the first time UNESCO's World Heritage Committee had been asked to consider sites endangered by climate change.

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