The highly complicated operation to retrieve the bodies of eight climbers from Nanda Devi area in Pithoragarh started in high Indian Himalayas on Saturday. The process of moving expert Indo Tibetan Border Police mountaineers from Munsyari and Pithoragarh through Mi-17 chopper of the Indian Air Force got completed. The team with all the equipment and essential items is now stationed at the Nanda Devi base camp two.

The Mi-17 conducted two sorties to ferry the expert team of mountaineers and their equipment to the Nanda Devi base camp two on Saturday. Now the operation will be conducted in the high altitude area of Himalayas. Located approximately 4,200 mt above the sea level, the search and rescue team faces tough and challenging conditions to execute one of the most complicated operations ever in the Indian mountaineering history.

Pithoragarh district magistrate Vijay Kumar Jogdande said, “A total of 15 expert mountaineers of the Indo Tibetan Border Police were moved today to the Nanda Devi base camp two. Nine ITBP mountaineers were airlifted from Munsyari and six from Pithoragarh. Besides equipment, ration and other essential things were shifted by air to the base camp.”

A group of adventure lovers, led by British mountaineering expert Martin Moran, remains missing since 27/28 May. The team was to scale an unnamed peak in Nanda Devi. The names of the missing are Martin Moran, John McLaren, Rupert Whewell, Richard Payne, Anthony Sudekum, Ronald Beimel, Ruth McCance and Chetan Pandey.

The search and rescue team has prepared a three-week long programme for the operation, hence no immediate result is expected. Considering the complication involved in the special operation, the safety of the rescue team has been given the highest priority.

The Indian Air Force Mi-17 will remain in Pithoragarh till the operation is over. ITBP, IAF, SDRF, IMF and other agencies are involved in the search and rescue operation. The operation to retrieve bodies of eight mountaineers from Nanda Devi area was finalized after consulting various agencies.

The Pithoragarh district administration interacted with the Ministry of Defense (Government of India) and different ministries for the rescue operation. The Mi-17 conducted a survey of Nanda Devi area on Friday and spotted a flat area where the ITBP team was dropped. The operation has now started in a high altitude area.