A week after Mumbai trekker Richard Khear fell into a gorge in Lahaul-Spiti district, army personnel finally located him lying still on a ridge close to the Castle peak on Saturday.
Army personnel from various formations in Gulmarg and Pathankot arrived in Udaipur in the district on Saturday morning and began the search and rescue operation to locate Richard who fell in the gorge while trying to summit the Castle peak on August 29.
With various rescue teams’ efforts going in vain, the state government had also sent a request to the National Disaster Relief Force for assisting the rescue operations.
“Army has totally taken over the rescue mission. The army team through an aerial survey has located Richard lying still on the ridge near Castle peak. But his chances of survival are almost bleak,” Udaipur sub-divisional magistrate Dr Amit Guleria told HT over phone.
The army choppers conducted the aerial survey of the site of the accident and took fresh photographs to study the terrain.
As many as 14 army personnel being led by Major G Gurung were airdropped at the base camp set up by the Himachal Police and mountaineers from the Atal Bihari Instititute of Mountaineering, Manali.
The army rescue team comprises personnel from Jammu and Kashmir rifles and mountaineers from the High Altitude School of Warfare in Gulmarg, Kashmir. The civil administration has also deployed two doctors with the team.
Richard had arrived in Manali from Mumbai on August 5 and left for Udaipur. He was accompanied by his NRI friend Sunny.
The mishap occurred on the Miyar-Jaskal track, which is famous with both domestic and foreign trekkers. The site where Richard fell is nearly 30 km ahead of Khanjar, the last inhabited village in the Miyar valley of the tribal district.
‘Safety measures were inadequate’
Meanwhile, with the army taking over the rescue operation, the team of mountaineers from Manali has returned to Udaipur.
“The mountaineers have informed that Richard had not followed necessary safety measures as the thickness of the ropes he used for rock climbing was not meant for high-altitude climbing,” Guleria said.
“Also, mountaineers informed that one should not descend the rocks with ropes after 3pm in high altitude owing to strong winds. But in this case, Richard and Sunny attempted to descend after 6 pm,” he added.
Richard's parents Judith and Brij Kher have been camping in Udaipur hoping against hope. “In this situation what else we can do other than keeping our hopes alive. I am praying to the almighty that we will be able to see our son by tomorrow. The army will resume the rescue operation at the break of dawn on Sunday,” said Brij Kher.