In the case of eight mountaineers presumed to be dead near the Nanda Devi East peak, Indian Air Force helicopters have returned from Pithoragarh with officials stating that in the present scenario the safe induction and de-induction of the expert team in the bowl like area, where the bodies were earlier spotted is not feasible.
The Pithoragarh Superintendent of Police (SP), RC Rajguru told The Pioneer, “The IAF has conducted reconnaissance through their ALH and Cheetah helicopters, both are the most powerful helicopters used for search and rescue operations. They said that it is not feasible to induct or de-induct any mission in that bowl-shaped area, which was our plan A. There are technical and weather factors that they have stated in their report. Till June 6, the bodies that were spotted in that area were visible, but on the morning of June 7, they were not visible as there was two to three feet fresh snow at the site. The weather has deteriorated after that.”
He added, “Regarding plan B, they said it is not the right time. It was time taking mission, the team was supposed to be inducted outside the bowl and had to link with each other along the ridge. They said that also would be suitable at a later stage, but for now the weather conditions do not permit it.”
He further said, “The Indo-Tibetan Border Police is continuing its preparations. They are trying to acclimatise their personnel. They said that they will be launching ground based operation later on. They are in the process of procuring equipment for that. The IAF can be engaged later on, once the ITBP is ready.”
It is pertinent to mention here that eight members of the mountain climbing expedition had gone missing. Their crew members informed Indian Mountaineering Foundation, which then e-mailed Pithoragarh district administration. On June 3, five bodies were spotted by IAF helicopters, which were presumed to be dead. On June 5, three attempts were made to retrieve the bodies. However, the attempts were not successful due to high altitude, bad weather and the risk of avalanche.
It will be recalled that a 12 member crew of mountain climbers were attempting to scale Nanda Devi East. On May 31, the company arranging their expedition e-mailed the Pithoragarh district administration that four of the climbers had returned to the base camp, but eight others had failed to do so. Among the eight mountaineers one is Indian, one Australian, two from United States of America and four from United Kingdom.