The bodies of seven climbers, who died on their way to Nanda Devi East peak over a month ago, were flown to Uttarakhand’s Pithoragarh town on Wednesday, PTI reported. The climbers had left Munsiyari village on May 13 to scale the peak but they did not return to the base camp on the scheduled date of May 25.
The mountaineers’ bodies were brought to Munsiyari by Cheetah helicopters from camp one, which is located at 15,600 feet. Following this, Indian Air Force helicopters took them to Naini Saini airport in Pithoragarh, District Magistrate VK Jogdande said.
The bodies will be taken for examination to Haldwani Medical College, where postmortem and identification procedures will be completed. “All the seven bodies recovered by the ITBP [Indo Tibetan Border Police] have been successfully brought down by the IAF [Indian Air Force] choppers at the district’s Naini Saini airport where the panchnama process is going on,” Hindustan Times quoted District Information Officer Girija Shankar Joshi as saying.
Two Indian Air Force Cheetah helicopters had left around 6.30 am on Wednesday to retrieve the bodies. The Indo Tibetan Border Police has been leading the mission to bring the bodies down to Uttarakhand. The first four bodies were retrieved early on Wednesday, Reuters quoted Vivek Kumar Pandey, a spokesperson for the security personnel leading the operation.
Twelve mountaineers had gone for the expedition to climb the Nanda Devi East peak, India’s second highest mountain. Four of them who had split from the main group were rescued on June 2 from base camp area. The remaining eight climbers, led by experienced mountaineer Martin Moran, planned to attempt “an unclimbed peak” adjacent to Nanda Devi.
The other climbers were John Charles McLaren, Richard Payne and Rupert James Whewell [United Kingdom), Ruth Margaret McCance [Australia], Anthony Edward Sudekum and Ronald Isaac Beimel [United States], and liaison officer Chetan Pandey, according to PTI. One of the climbers is still missing.
The eight mountaineers were reported missing after they did not return to the Nanda Devi base camp on the scheduled date. On June 13, a 32-member team, including 11 mountaineers of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police, launched a fresh expedition to retrieve the bodies, days after Indian Air Force helicopters were unable to retrieve the bodies.