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Nanda Devi: Bodies of missing climbers recovered in Himalayas

Climbing expedition group

Image copyright
Reuters

Image caption

The group pictured before they began their ascent last month

The bodies of seven climbers who went missing last month have been recovered in the Himalayas, officials say.

A rescue team is searching for the body of an eighth climber, according to Indian officials who spoke to the BBC.

Four Britons, two Americans, an Australian and an Indian made up the group, who had been attempting to climb India’s second-highest peak.

They went missing in a ridge between two glaciers at an altitude of 5,380m (17,650ft) near Nanda Devi last month.

It is believed the mountain was hit by avalanches when the climbers were trying to scale one of the peaks there.

Contact was lost on 26 May, a day before an avalanche hit the 7,816m-high mountain.

The group was being led by experienced British mountain guide Martin Moran, whose Scotland-based company, Moran Mountain, has run numerous expeditions in the Indian Himalayas.

The rest of the group were John McLaren, Rupert Whewell and University of York lecturer Richard Payne from the UK; US nationals Anthony Sudekum and Ronald Beimel; Australian Ruth McCance; and Indian guide Chetan Pandey.

Their bodies were spotted by an Indian rescue mission earlier this month, but attempts to retrieve them were postponed after a helicopter failed multiple times to drop rescuers on the peak.

Image caption

Indian officials abandoned a mission to retrieve the bodies earlier this month

VK Jogdande, the senior official in Pithoragarh, where the mountain is located, told the BBC a team of 25 climbers belonging to the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) had successfully retrieved seven bodies on Sunday.

“They have set up a camp there and they have kept the bodies there. They hope to recover the eighth body by tomorrow,” he said.

Mr Jogdande said the climbers would require at least three days to bring the bodies to the base camp.

Two teams, comprising nearly 50 climbers, porters and medics, belonging to the ITBP and the Indian Mountaineering Federation (IMF), have travelled to the peak separately to recover the bodies.

The ITBP team were dropped at the base camp by helicopter, while the volunteer climbers of IMF are walking to the peak.

“This is the most difficult and challenging mission taken by Indian rescue teams to bring down bodies from the upper reaches of the Himalayas,” Mr Jogdande said.

He said the route was littered with dangerous crevasses.

Amit Chowdhury of the IMF said the operation had been risky, and hampered by bad weather.

“Now they have to decide on how to bring the bodies down,” he told the BBC. “[Whether they will] try to build a helipad and bring them down or carry them down is a decision that has to be made.”

Four other climbers who were part of the group ascending the peak were rescued earlier this month.

The rescued climbers were Mark Thomas, 44, Ian Wade, 45, Kate Armstrong, 39, and Zachary Quain, 32.

They were airlifted to safety after being spotted at Munsiyari base camp near Nanda Devi.

Nanda Devi: Bodies of missing climbers recovered in Himalayas}

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