Bodies of five missing mountaineers’ bodies spotted near Nanda Devi peak
The eight-member group of British, American, Australian and Indian mountaineers went missing after leaving Nanda Devi’s base camp in Munsyari on May 13. They were scheduled to complete their expedition on June 1.Updated: Jun 04, 2019 07:13 IST
Rescuers on-board an Indian Air Force (IAF) chopper on Monday spotted bodies of five out of eight missing mountaineers near the 7,434-metre-high Nanda Devi East peak in Uttarakhand’s Pithoragarh district even as bad weather hampered rescue operations, two officials said.
Pithoragarh’s district magistrate, Vijay Kumar Jogdande, said the bodies were sighted at a height of about 5,000 metres close to another unscaled peak two hours after the chopper took off to the mountaineer group’s last location.
He added the bodies could not be retrieved since the high altitude location is difficult to access. “The spot [where the bodies were seen] is about 500 metres from the Nanda Devi peak.”
The eight-member group of British, American, Australian and Indian mountaineers went missing after leaving Nanda Devi’s base camp in Munsyari on May 13. They were scheduled to complete their expedition on June 1.
Mangal Singh, a porter, informed the authorities that the mountaineers had gone missing on Friday after he returned to the base camp, which is located about 132 km from Pithoragarh .
Jogdande said ace British mountaineer, Martin Moran, led the group. He said the group had permission for an expedition to Nanda Devi East but they moved towards another peak. “Instead of heading there [Nanda Devi East], they moved towards an unnamed peak,” he added.
He said Moran had earlier scaled Nanda Devi East twice. Jogdande identified the seven other members of the team as John McLaren, Richard Payne, Rupert Havel, Ruth Macrain, Anthony Sudecam, Rachel Bimmel and Chetan Pandey.
He said the five mountaineers perhaps died while ascending the unscaled peak after they failed to scale Nanda Devi East. Nanda Devi East is the lower of the two adjacent peaks of India’s second highest mountain -- Nanda Devi. District disaster management officer, Prashant Kumar, said bad weather conditions were hampering the rescue operations. “The teams involved are facing difficulties,” he said.
“The IAF chopper was also unable to conduct another sortie due to bad weather today. The efforts to recover the bodies would be made on Tuesday morning by the chopper which too would depend on the weather,” he added.
He said the identifies of the five could only be ascertained after the recovery of their bodies.
Earlier on Sunday, four British mountaineers were rescued from the Nanda Devi base camp. They were a part of a bigger group of 38 mountaineers, which included the missing eight.
The four also provided the authorities clues about the possible location of the eight missing climbers.
Jogdande said they were sending a report to the Centre and further rescue operation will be conducted after they get more instructions. “We have an expert team from State Disaster Response Force, besides experts from the Indian Mountaineering Foundation. In addition to these teams, we have stationed our search teams at Laspa and Bugdiyar camps close to the Nanda Devi base camp in Munsyari,” he said.
First Published: Jun 04, 2019 00:59 IST