Indian soldiers recover bodies in search for missing climbers

Indian soldiers have reached the bodies of seven of eight members from a team of international  climbers, including a group of Britons, believed killed on a dangerous Himalayan mountain.

Friday, 28th June 2019, 12:58 pm
Updated Friday, 28th June 2019, 1:58 pm
Scots climber Martin Moran led the expedition.

Administrator of Uttarakhand state, Vijay Jogdande, said the soldiers reached the bodies on Sunday, but they had yet to be identified.

The bodies will now be brought from where they were found at an altitude of more than 5,000 metres to the base camp.

Veteran British mountaineer Martin Moran led a team of four Britons, two Americans, an Australian and an Indian on an expedition on Nanda Devi East.

Mr Moran's Scotland-based company said contact with the team was lost on May 26 following an avalanche.

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Officials said they were all presumed dead.

Five bodies believed to be from the missing team were spotted by air nearly two weeks ago.

Ground expeditions by the Indian paramilitary forces and the Indian Mountaineering Foundation were launched after helicopter missions failed to reach the area.

The search for the missing eighth mountaineer will continue, Mr Jogdande said.

HS Chauhan, president of the Indian Mountaineering Foundation, said authorities would decide on an air evacuation of the bodies depending on weather conditions.

Ground expeditions also are in the area for the task.

Mr Moran has been a mountain guide since 1985 and set up his company - Moran Mountain, based in Auchintee in the Wester Ross - with his wife Joy, while their grown-up children, Hazel and Alex, also work for the business.

In an earlier statement, the Moran family said: "We are deeply saddened by the tragic events unfolding in the Nanda Devi region of the Indian Himalayas."

Academic Richard Payne, from the University of York, is believed to be among the missing climbers.

In a statement The Moran Mountain Team said: “The recovery operation is made up of a 34-member team from Indo Tibetan Border Force and State Disaster Response Fund who approached the accident site via the Nanda Devi East Base Camp. A separate 35-member team from the Indian Mountaineering Foundation approached via Base Camp at the Pindari Glacier.

“On Sunday the 23rd of June, we were made aware that seven bodies had been located at the accident site, details are not yet known about the identities of the deceased. The eighth member involved in this tragic accident is yet to be located. Efforts are ongoing to bring all eight members home to their loved ones. Unfortunately, the recovery operation has been hampered by bad weather over the last 3 days, but we are hopeful to hear further updates by Friday.

“We are deeply grateful to everyone involved in this very complex and challenging recovery operation and we are supporting them in any way we can.

“We appreciate your continued support and respect for all families involved at this very difficult time.”