The bodies of seven climbers killed on India’s second-highest mountain have been retrieved by a rescue team, officials said on Monday.
The search was under way for the body of an eighth climber on the Nanda Devi mountain, senior administrative official Vijay Kumar Jogdande said, giving details of rescue operations that have lasted almost a month.
An international team of climbers comprising four Britons, two U.S. citizens, an Australian and an Indian went missing on May 24.
They were attempting to summit a previously unclimbed peak on the 7,817-metre mountain and were hit by an avalanche in the area, officials had said. Air force helicopters spotted five bodies in the region by early June.
“A team of mountaineers belonging to the Indo-Tibetan Border Police which trekked to the area, located at a height of over 5,000 metres, found seven bodies of the climbers on Sunday.
“The bodies were retrieved from under five feet [1.5 metres] of snow and are in an intact, preserved state,’’ Jogdande said.
“Although a final confirmation of identities will be possible only when the bodies are brought down from the heights, the bodies are those of the climbers as they have been found in the same avalanche-hit area,’’ he added.
The mission to retrieve the bodies had been hampered by bad weather, heavy snowfall and strong winds as well as the tough terrain on the Nanda Devi.
The expedition group were being led by experienced British mountain guide Martin Moran, whose company Moran Mountain has run many expeditions in the Indian Himalayas.
The Nanda Devi mountain is known to be one of the toughest for climbers.