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, prompting the administration to launch a massive search-and-rescue operation.
The team, which includes seven mountaineers from the U.K., the U.S. and Australia besides a liaison officer from the Indian Institute of Mountaineering, left Munsiyari on May 13 to scale the 7,434-metre peak.
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 on June 1.
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 90km on foot.
“Besides the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) search teams, we have sent a 14-member search-and-rescue team from Munsiyari to the spot this morning. The team comprises State Disaster Response Force (SDRF), medical personnel, revenue police and local villagers,” the district magistrate (DM) said.
A SDRF team also left Dehradun in a helicopter on Saturday morning to conduct an aerial survey of the area but inclement weather hampered the operation, Mr. 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 21km 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.