The Indian Mountaineering Foundation (IMF) and the Uttarakhand government are launching separate missions to retrieve the bodies of a group of foreign mountaineers who perished in an avalanche near Nanda Devi last month.
Two separate missions are being launched - one from Bageshwar district and other from Pithoragarh district - to bring back the bodies of the mountaineers, five of which were spotted by Indian Air Force helicopters recently on one of the treacherous peaks of the Nanda Devi range.
A 34-member joint ground mission of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police, National Disaster Response Force and State Disaster Response Force would be launched to retrieve the bodies with the backing of the state government from Pithoragarh area on Wednesday, Pithoragarh District Magistrate V K Jogdande said on Tuesday.
The IMF on Tuesday began its own mission from Bageshwar district through Pindari glacier, Bageshwar district officials said. A 14-member team of the IMF left Bageshwar for Nanda Devi East this afternoon.
IAF helicopters last week made repeated attempts to retrieve the bodies but bad weather and rugged topography of the mountain hampered the operation.
After a series of failed attempts by IAF choppers, the state government had sought the help of the ITBP to launch a land operation to retrieve the bodies.
Considering the tough terrain, the operation to secure the bodies might take 15-20 days for the expedition team to reach the avalanche site, officials said. The same duration would be required for the return of the mission.
"So it will be a prolonged exercise," Jogdande said.
IAF helicopters early this month had spotted the bodies of five of the eight mountaineers, including an Indian, who perished on way to the Nanda Devi East peak in Uttarakhand.
The bodies had been sighted at an unnamed peak adjoining Nanda Devi East during an air search by IAF helicopters. The bodies were of the mountaineers of the eight-member team consisting of climbers from the UK, US and Australia that went missing en route to the Nanda Devi East.
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 route to the peak begins from Munsiyari about 132 kms from the district headquarters.
Only five bodies were spotted by IAF choppers while the whereabouts of the other three mountaineers are not yet known.
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