Bodies of 7 mountaineers brought to Uttarakhand’s Pithoragarh
Bodies of seven of the eight missing mountaineers were brought down almost a month after an avalanche swept them away near Nanda Devi, India’s second highest mountain, to Uttarakhand’s Pithoragarh on Wednesday morning, officials said.
The four British, two American and one Australian and an Indian mountaineers were reported missing on May 31 after they failed to return to Nanda Devi’s base camp – Munsiyari. The team of Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) personnel had recovered the bodies of seven of the eight mountaineers on June 23.
The bodies were found in a spot at the height of about 17,000ft where the Indian Air Force (IAF) choppers had spotted them on June 3. The team failed to find the body of the remaining mountaineer and decided to abandon the search citing bad weather conditions last Friday.
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“All the seven bodies recovered by the ITBP have been successfully brought down by the IAF choppers at the district’s Naini Saini airport where the panchnama process is going on,” district information officer Girija Shankar Joshi said.
Two IAF Cheetah helicopters had left at about 6.30am on Wednesday for the landing spot at about 15,000ft near Nanda Devi’s east peak where the search and rescue team of ITBP had brought the bodies on foot to be airlifted.
“The two Cheetah helicopters airlifted two bodies at a time from the spot to Munsiyari. From there another heavy lift chopper of IAF airlifted them to the Naini Saini airport,” said Joshi.
The officer said the bodies will be flown to Dr Susheela Tiwari Government Hospital for a post mortem examination.
“Their identification would likely be done there only as at present none of the deceased mountaineers’ team members are in Pithoragarh. They would be identified by the members of Indian Mountaineers Federation at the hospital,” Joshi said.
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The climbers were a part of a group of 12 mountaineers, who had left Munsiyari on May 13 to climb the eastern peak of Nanda Devi. They did not return to the base camp on the scheduled date of May 25.
Four of them, who had split from the main group, were rescued on June 2 from the base camp area. They told local officials on May 31 other team members had not returned as planned and that they were in touch with them till May 26, a day before an avalanche hit the mountain.
Nanda Devi, which is the world’s 23rd highest mountain, does not attract many climbers since it is considered one of the toughest Himalayan peaks to climb.