ITBP, SDRF continue search for missing foreign climbers, 4 rescued

ITBP, SDRF continue search for missing foreign climbers, 4 rescued

A team of 12 foreign mountaineers had left for Nanda Devi East peak in Pithoragarh district in Uttarakhand last Friday but it went missing shortly after that prompting the administration to launch a massive search-and-rescue operation.

Besides the Indian officer, Moran's team includes John McLaren, Richard Payne and Rupert Havel from the UK, Anthony Sudecam and Rachel Bimmel from the USA and Ruth Macrain from Australia.

The missing eight were part of a larger team of 12 who set off from the village of Munsiyari on May 13.

The group was on an expedition to Nanda Devi East but they went on an acclimatization climb on an unnamed and unclimbed Peak, according to the British Association of Mountain Guides. A search and rescue team of the ITBP started rescue operations at 6 am in the morning.

Indian and worldwide news reports said that the team was led by British guide Martin Moran.

Jogdande said it was likely the missing team had been caught up in a "huge avalanche".

Helicopters airlifted the group to safety after they were spotted early today at a base camp near India's second highest mountain, the 7,826-metre (25,643-foot) Nanda Devi.

"After a recce of the route they will be making a summit attempt on an unclimbed peak at 6477m".

He added, "Chances of survival are bleak", and confirmed the occurrence of an avalanche that is feared to have caught the climbers in the area around India's second-highest peak.

Amit Chowdhary, spokesman for the Indian Mountaineering Foundation, said the missing climbers' location was known up to May 26. The base camp is situated nearly 21 km away from the peak.

"Following the information about missing mountaineers, we mobilised our teams including disaster response force personnel, health teams and police, besides informing the Indo-Tibetan Border Police to initiate a rescue work". He said the search would resume on Monday, using tips provided by the four team members brought down from the base camp.

The missing climbers are from Australia, Britain, the United States and India.

Local mountaineers report there was a heavy avalanche on the group's proposed route.

This followed news at least nine climbers have died on Mount Everest during this year's climbing season, with many blaming overcrowding for the death toll.

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