Missing Norwegian skier in Gulmarg feared dead

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Srinagar, Jan 27: A Norwegian woman skier, missing since January 8 in snowbound Gulmarg heights in north Kashmir, is feared dead under snow, official sources said.

They said besides ten feet to 15 feet of snow in the avalanche prone heights, there was also a threat of wild animals.

However, a state tourism department official said rescue operations were still on to trace the skier Francesca Rongne.

This is the second time Rongne went missing in Gulmarg. Last year she was rescued after a couple of days from a snow cave after being caught in a snow storm. However, this time she was not so lucky as the teams rushed for her rescue, returned without any success.

He said, ''We still hope she is alive and a number of teams rushed to different heights in the area were still looking for her.'' The teams, went to different directions from the base camp at Gulmarg and have searched more than a dozen dangerous heights, including Affarwat, Linganmarg, Dranga Gund and Tangmarg forests which are under ten feet to 15 feet of snow, he said. Success still eludes to trace her, he added.

Official sources said her chances of survival in freezing temperature without food and shelter was bleak.

Besides more than 15 feet of snow in the avalanche prone heights, there was also a threat of wild animals, which generlly come down from the upper forests, they added.

The rescue teams from Army, High Altitude Warfare School and police searched the entire belt to locate Rongne without any success.

The official sources said she checked in a hotel on January 8 at 1430 hrs but left after 15 minutes for skiing. However, when she did not return, the hotel management lodged a missing report in the police station at Gulmarg on January 9.

Three officials from Norwegian embassy in Delhi also joined the rescue operation but had to return without any success.

UNI

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