Pithoragarh (Uttarakhand): An eight-member team of mountaineers, including seven foreign nationals, has gone missing on its way to Nanda Devi East peak in Pithoragarh district in Uttarakhand.
The team, which includes seven mountaineers from the UK, US and Australia besides a liaison officer from the Indian Institute of Mountaineering, left Munsiyari on May 13 to scale the 7434-metre peak and was scheduled to return to the base camp on Friday.
The district administration sent a rescue tram after people at the base camp informed the authorities late on Friday night about the team going missing en route to the peak. The route to the peak begins from Munsiyari, about 132 km from the district headquarters. From Munsiyari to the Nanda Devi base camp, mountaineers have to traverse a distance of about 90 km on foot.
The rescue team comprising State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF), police and medical personnel has been sent to the Nanda Devi base camp in search of the climbers, Munsiyari sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) R C Gautam said. The team was scheduled to reach the Nanda Devi base camp on Friday and Munsiyari on June 1, he said. The SDM said the rescue team will reach the base camp late Saturday night and start rescue operation with the help of expedition team members at the base camp. The team is said to have been missing since May 25 when it was supposed to return to the base camp, Pithoragarh District Magistrate V K Jogdande told reporters Saturday.
"Besides the ITBP search teams, we have sent a 14-member search and rescue team from Munsiyari to the spot this morning. The team comprises SDRF, medical personnel, revenue police and local villagers," the district magistrate said.
A State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) team also left Dehradun in a helicopter Saturday morning to conduct an aerial survey of the area but inclement weather hampered the operation, Jogdande said.
"The team will make another attempt to carry out an aerial survey to trace the missing mountaineers as the weather improves," the DM said.
"An ITBP search team has reached Martoli village about 21 km from Nanda Devi base camp. It will soon reach the base camp," he said. "We have also sought helicopter sorties from neighbouring districts of Chamoli and Rudraprayag to trace the exact location of the mountaineers," he said.
The team leader, Martin Mortain, is a well-known mountaineer from Britain.