The Indian Air Force (IAF) launched an air operation to find eight foreign climbers and four porters from the Nanda Devi East area in Pithoragarh on Monday.

In an aerial survey, the IAF team traced bodies of five mountaineers and their rucksacks. Primary investigation indicates that the climbers were possibly killed in an avalanche.

The Pithoragarh district administration also released two aerial photographs of the avalanche hit area on Monday. The photographs show belongings scattered in different parts on the glacier. Based on the aerial survey and photographs the district administration confirmed finding five bodies.

 

Aerial photographs released by the Pithoragarh district administration. (Photo: SNS)

 

Four local porters had also accompanied the team for the Nanda Devi East expedition. They remain missing – taking the total number of missing persons to 12. The district administration has stationed one team of Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) at Laspa, near the 1st base camp, and a backup team of the State Disaster Response Force at Bugdiyar with medical supplies and relief.

The IAF team launched a special operation on Sunday to airlift four members of the expedition team, who had reached the base camp. The team air lifted Zachary Quain, Kate Armstrong, Ian Wade and Mark Thomas (all from United Kingdom) to Pithoragarh.

Even on Monday bad weather and poor visibility affected search and rescue operation. The district administration will be making effort to retrieve the dead bodies from the glacier.

The team started its expedition from Munsyari in district Pithoragarh on 13 May and eight climbers and four porters remain missing since 26/27 May.

British mountaineering expert Martin Moran, John McLaren, Rupert Whewell, Richard Payne, Anthony Sudekum, Ronald Beimel, Ruth McCance and Chetan Pandey are those missing.