Search underway for eight climbers missing in Indian Himalayas

Posted at 7:34 AM, Jun 01, 2019

A search is underway for seven climbers — four Britons, two Americans and an Australian — and their Indian liaison officer, who went missing a week ago during an expedition in the Indian Himalayas, local authorities say.

The group was attempting to scale Nanda Devi East, one of the highest and most difficult to climb peaks in India at just over 24,000 feet (7,400 meters) tall, local Uttarakhand District Magistrate, Vijay Kumar Jogdande, told CNN.

The missing eight were part of a larger team of 12 who set off from the village of Munsiyari on May 13. But 12 days later, on May 25, only four of the group returned to base camp, said Uttarakhand's Senior District Official, R.D. Paliwal.

The entire group was supposed to reach its base camp on May 26, according to Himalayan Run & Trek, the agency which arranged the expedition. The base camp is located at 19,685 feet (6,000 meters) above sea level.

The company waited a few days after the remaining members of the team failed to arrive before alerting authorities of their disappearance on May 31, Jogdande said.

The Indian liaison officer who is among the missing is from the Indian Mountaineering foundation, based in New Delhi.

The UK Foreign Office said in a statement it was in contact with Indian authorities following reports that the climbers were missing.

Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade also said it was "providing consular assistance to the family of an Australian that may be among a group of trekkers missing in the Nanda Devi area of India."

Three search teams have now reached the first base camp, which is 25 kilometers below the peak. Another team, equipped with medical and civil supplies, is also on its way. A military aircraft is expected to be sent tomorrow to help with the rescue effort.

It is unclear whether the climbers went missing during their ascent or descent, or the cause of their disappearance.

It follows the deaths of 11 climbers on Mount Everest this year, amid extraordinary images of queues of people waiting to get to the summit, prompting fresh concerns over the increased commercialization of mountaineering expeditions.