Bodies of 5 mountaineers, part of team that went missing in Nanda Devi, spotted: IAF

Indian Air Force helicopters Monday spotted the bodies of five of the eight mountaineers who went missing en route to the Nanda Devi East peak in Uttarakhand, the IAF said.

The eight-member team consisting of climbers from the UK, the US and Australia went missing on the way to the Nanda Devi East peak.

Bodies of five mountaineers were sighted near an unscaled peak adjoining Nanda Devi East during an air search by IAF helicopters on Monday, Pithoragarh District Magistrate V K Jogdande said.

Apparently, the mountaineers were perished in an avalanche while ascending an unscaled peak near the Nanda Devi East peak after they failed to scale the latter, he said.

The IAF also tweeted about spotting the bodies.

"Today, #IAF crew spotted five bodies in the Himalayas during a #SearchAndRescue operation for missing mountaineers. A team of eight climbers had gone missing near the Nanda Devi peak over a week ago," it said.

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 who were rescued during a sortie undertaken on Sunday.

"We are sending a report to the Centre. Further rescue operation will be conducted after we get instructions," Jogdande said.

"We have an expert team from State Disaster Response Force (SDRF), besides experts from Indian Mountaineering Foundation. In addition to these teams, we have stationed our search teams at Laspa and Bugdiyar camps close to the Nanda Devi base camp in Munsiyari," he said.

Sub-divisional magistrate of Munsiyari, K N Goswami, said, "It is now ITBP (Indo-Tibetan Border Police) and SDRF and Air Force teams that will conduct the search operation with help of expert mountaineers and local villagers."

Led by well-known British mountaineer Martin Moran, the team went missing on way to the 7434-metre-high Nanda Devi East peak in Uttarakhand's Pithoragarh district.

A liaison officer of the Indian Mountaineering Foundation in New Delhi was also part of the team.

The team 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.

Besides Moran, the team members were John McLaren, Richard Payne, Rupert Havel (all from the UK), Ruth Macrain (Australia), Anthony Sudekum, Rachel Bimmel (both from the US) and liaison officer Chetan Pandey, Jogdande said.

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.