IAF mission to retrieve Nanda Devi climbers' bodies halted
Pithoragarh, June 05: A joint operation between the Indian Air Force and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) to retrieve the bodies bodies of five mountaineers lying near the Nanda Devi East peak in Uttharakhand has been postponed for 10 days.
Considering the tough terrain, the operation of retrieving the bodies might extend beyond a week, Pithoragarh district magistrate V K 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.
IAF helicopters on Monday spotted the bodies of five of the eight mountaineers who went missing on way to the peak.
The eight-member team consisting of climbers from the UK, US and Australia went missing en route to the Nanda Devi East peak.
The bodies were sighted after an air search was conducted over the peak on the basis of clues provided by four climbers from the UK rescued during a sortie undertaken on Sunday.
Led by well-known British mountaineer Martin Moran, the team went missing recently on way to the 7434-metre-high Nanda Devi East peak in Uttarakhand's Pithoragarh district.
A liaison officer of Indian Mountaineering Foundation in New Delhi was also part of the team.
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.
The members of the team were Martin Moran, John McLaren, Richard Payne, Rupert Havel (all from the UK), Ruth Macrain (Australia), Anthony Sudecam (US), Rachel Bimmel (US) and liaison officer Chetan Pandey, the District Magistrate said.
British mountaineer Martin Moran had scaled the peak twice in the past, he said.
The route to the peak begins from Munsiyari about 132 km from the district headquarters.