Choppers Unable to Land as Sharp Winds Scuttle Efforts to Retrieve Bodies of Climbers from Nanda Devi Peak
Pithoragarh District Magistrate VK Jogdande said the operation of retrieving the bodies might extend beyond a week, keeping in mind the tough terrain.
Pithoragarh: In this photo provided by the Indo Tibetan Border Police force or ITBP, shows ITBP officers inside a helicopter that attempted to rescue and retrieve the bodies of international climbers, in Pithoragarh, Uttarakhand, India, Wednesday, June 5, 2019. (AP/PTI)
Pithoragarh: Indian Air Force helicopters on Wednesday undertook three sorties to retrieve bodies of five mountaineers lying near the Nanda Devi East Peak in Uttarakhand but high speed sharp winds hampered their efforts.
Considering the tough terrain, the operation of retrieving the bodies might extend beyond a week, Pithoragarh District Magistrate VK Jogdande said.
He said three sorties were undertaken from Pithoragarh to retrieve the bodies but the helicopters could not hover over and get down at the spot where five bodies were found. High speed sharp winds at the peak did not let the IAF helicopters with ITBP mountaineers on board get down, he said.
"Besides the aerial operation, the administration will also try to reach the spot by the land route tomorrow to retrieve the bodies," he said.
“We are being joined by 35 State Disaster Response Force men tonight who will be divided into two groups. One will be sent to the spot by land route while the other will try to reach the spot by air," the DM said.
"Due to continuous snowfall in the region the bodies might be covered by snow which would further complicate the challenge for the rescue team," he said.
IAF helicopters had on Monday spotted the bodies of five of the eight mountaineers who went missing recently on way to the Nanda Devi East peak.
The bodies had been sighted near an unscaled peak adjoining the Nanda Devi East peak during a search by IAF helicopters.
The bodies were of mountaineers belonging to the eight-member team comprising climbers from the UK, US and Australia that went missing en route to the Nanda Devi East peak.
Apparently the mountaineers perished in an avalanche while ascending an unscaled peak near the Nanda Devi East peak after they failed to scale the latter, the DM had said.
The bodies were sighted after an air search was conducted over the peak on the basis of clues provided by four climbers from UK rescued during a sortie undertaken on Sunday.
The missing mountaineers included seven from the UK, US and Australia besides one liaison officer from Delhi's Indian Mountaineering Foundation.
They had left Munsiyari on May 13 to scale the peak but did not return to the base camp on the appointed date of May 25.
Led by well-known British mountaineer Martin Moran, the team comprised John McLaren, Richard Payne, Rupert Havel (all from UK), Ruth Macrain (Australia), Anthony Sudekum (US), Rachel Bimmel (US) and liaison officer from the Indian Mountaineering Foundation Chetan Pandey.
Moran, who led the team, had already scaled the peak twice in the past, he said.
The route to the peak begins from Munsiyari about 132 km from the district headquarters.
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