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Two Indian climbers die on Mount Kanchenjunga in Nepal

Two Indian mountaineers have died of altitude-related sickness on the Kanchenjunga, the world’s third highest peak, and rescue workers were preparing on Thursday to mount an effort to rescue two others.

world Updated: May 16, 2019 23:53 IST
Indian climbers,mount kanchenjunga,nepal
An expedition organizer says two Indian climbers on Mount Kanchenjunga (KAN’-chen-joonga) have died while attempts were being made to rescue them.(HT Photo)

Two Indian mountaineers have died of altitude-related sickness on the Kanchenjunga, the world’s third highest peak, and rescue workers were preparing on Thursday to mount an effort to rescue two others hit by frostbite and other ailments on the mountain in the Nepal Himalayas.

Biplab Baidya, 48, and Kuntal Karar, 46, died of hypothermia near camp IV at an altitude of about 8,000 metres on Wednesday on the 8,586-feet-high Kanchenjuga. Family and friends of the two others, Rudra Prasad Haldar and Ramesh Roy, were anxiously waiting for their rescue. An attempt will be made on Friday to airlift Haldar, 44, and Roy, 48.

Baidya managed to scale the mountain, but Kuntal fell sick on his way up, and both died during the descent, Mira Acharya, a liaison officer at Nepal’s ministry of tourism team deployed at the base camp, said.

“I am leaving for Kathmandu with Karar’s family members on Friday. However, the priority for the administration at present is to rescue Haldar and Roy from camp II. We are hoping for their safe return,” mountaineer Malay Mukhopadhyay, a close friend of Karar, Roy and Haldar, said on Thursday. Mukhopadhay and Karar are members of the same mountaineering club, the Howrah District Mountaineers and Trekkers Association.

Altitudes above 8,000 metres are called the death zone by mountaineers because of the lack of sufficient oxygen and the extreme cold that mountaineers experience at such heights.

“Baidya and Karar died on Wednesday near camp IV at an altitude of about 8,000 metres. Haldar and Roy, who are suffering from frostbite, reached camp II at about 4 pm on Thursday. They will be staying at camp II for the night. We will send helicopter to camp II on Friday morning to airlift them,” Ang Phula Sherpa of the Kathmandu-based Peak Promotion, the agency that arranged the expedition, said from Nepal over the phone.

On Thursday, Sk Sahabuddin, the fifth member of the team, reached camp II safely. All five members of the expedition had earlier climbed the world’s highest peak, Mount Everest, among other high-altitude peaks.

“Roy and Haldar need to be airlifted because they would find it difficult to walk down to the base camp with frostbite in their feet. One cannot wear shoes in such situations,” said mountaineer Debabrata Mukhopadhyay, a friend of Baidya.

Incidentally, Roy and Haldar had a close escape from death in 2016 when they scaled Mount Everest. Karar lost a toe to frostbite during his attempt on the Everest in 2017.

Baidya is survived by his wife and two daughters. An environmental engineer, he was in charge of the West Bengal Pollution Control Board’s Howrah region office. Karar, an entrepreneur living in Howrah district’s Amta, is unmarried.

Five years ago, Bengali mountaineer Chhanda Gayen went missing from the Kanchenjunga.

According to Rana Deb, president of Sonarpur Arohi mountaineering club, of which Haldar and Baidya are members, four members of the team had reached the summit of Kanchenjungha on May 15, while Karar fell unwell before reaching the summit and started returning.

“However, he could not make it to the next camp, camp IV, by night. Among the summiteers, Baidya fell ill on his way back,” Deb said.

Haldar is an assistant sub-inspector of Kolkata Police, Roy is a Central government officer and Sahabuddin works at Metal and Steel Factory, Ishapore.

First Published: May 16, 2019 09:33 IST