The Uttarakhand government launched a massive air/land search and rescue operation to find 19 Indian Institute of Technology-Roorkee students and their five porters on Wednesday. The group began their trek from Gangi village in Tehri district on 24 September for Kedarnath. But there is no trace of the IIT group for the past three days.

Two teams of Uttarakhand Police’s State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) were dispatched to find the missing trekkers and porters. A team was dispatched from Gangi and another from Kedarnath on Wednesday. According to reports the group last interacted with their driver Wasim Siddhiqui on 22 September and with some police officers on 24 September.

The trek is about 70 km and generally takes 3-7 days. The IIT-Roorkee group was to start the journey on 20 September but due to bad weather had to stay in Gangi for four days. The group remains untraceable since Monday. The state government has also started an air rescue operation.

Ukhimath’s Sub Divisional Magistrate Gopal Singh Chauhan said, “We conducted search operation by using a chopper today. I was in the team and went up to Basukital and other adjoining areas but failed to find the trekkers.”

Heavy snowfall took place in the higher reaches of Himalayas this week and low visibility also created hindrance in the search and rescue mission. An 11-member team of SDRF, consisting of 3 members of Uttarakhand Police, 3 of SDRF, 3 porters and two guides, was dispatched from Kedarnath on Wednesday. Led by Inspector Hoshyar Singh the team will camp at Basukital on Wednesday. Another team of SDRF left for the search and rescue operation from village Gangi.

The trek from Gangi to Kedarnath passes through Chowki, Panya top, Vasuki Tal, etc. The breathtaking view of snow covered peaks at Panya top inspires adventure lovers to undertake the trek. As heavy snowfall took place in higher reaches, it is assumed that bad weather has possibly forced the group not to proceed and stay at a point.