ITBP Team Sent to Retrieve Mountaineers' Bodies from Uttarakhand Peak Clocks 15 Days in Tough Weather
Four out of seven recovered bodies have been taken to a ridge in the mountains so that they can be brought down on shoulders to a base camp created by the force at 15,250 feet, from where they can be lifted on a helicopter.
Nanda Devi East peak. Image Credits: NPS Photo / Claire Abendroth
New Delhi: A 10-member team of the ITBP is battling inclement weather and snow blizzards at an height of about 18,000 feet for over a fortnight as it makes an arduous attempt to bring back the mortal remains of eight climbers who died near the Nanda Devi East peak in Uttarakhand in May.
According to latest inputs, a senior official said four out of seven recovered bodies have been taken to a ridge in the mountains so that they can be brought down on shoulders to a base camp created by the force at 15,250 feet, from where they can be lifted on a helicopter.
It has been a fortnight since the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) team, led by ace mountaineer and second-in-command rank officer Ratan Singh Sonal, set out for the mission and has been battling all odds to bring back the bodies that were first spotted by Indian Air Force (IAF) choppers on June 3, the official said.
While seven bodies have been found, one is till missing and the team is trying a new trick everyday to retrieve the mortal remains, he said.
Snow blizzards and difficult weather has put a spanner in the rescue operation and the ITBP teams are now prepared to bring the bodies on their backs and shoulders to the base camp so that helicopters can lift them from there as the flying machines are not able to go higher than that at the moment owing to bad weather, he said.
Vivek Kumar Pandey, the ITBP spokesperson at its headquarters here, said the team will ensure that all the bodies are brought down to the base camp with full respect and further the ground teams in Pithoragarh district in the state will assist administration in their subsequent transportation to various domestic locations and countries.
The team, the spokesperson said, is in constant touch with the ITBP command centre in Uttarakhand and also with the headquarters here.
The team members are being supplied with rations and essential items through a supply link used by the force while patrolling the border with China, the senior official said.
However, he said, as the team is out in the frosty mountains for long now, they are looking forward to achieving quick mission success so that they also reach safely to their original base in Pithoragarh.
We expect good results in a day or two, the official said.
The team of climbers had dug out seven bodies, including a woman mountaineer, which were buried under the snow on the western ridge of the peak towards the Pindari glacier on June 23.
The bodies have not been identified yet and it will be possible only after they are brought down to the base camp, officials said.
The ill-fated expedition was led by well-known British mountaineer Martin Moran who had already scaled the 7,434-metre-high peak twice in the past.
The mountaineers had left Munsyari on May 13 to scale the peak in Pithoragarh district, but did not return to the base camp on the appointed date of May 25. The team included seven members from the UK, Australia and the US, besides a liaison officer from the Indian Mountaineering Foundation.
Seven of the eight members of the team are John McLaren, Richard Payne and Rupert Havel (from the UK), Ruth Macrain (Australia), Anthony Sudekum and Rachel Bimmel (US), and liaison officer Chetan Pandey.
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