missing mountaineers

Pithoragarh District Magistrate Vijay Kumar (right) speaks as Indo-Tibetan Border Police Deputy Inspector General of Police A. P. S. Nambadia (center) looks on during a press conference in Pithoragarh on June 5 after failed attempts to retrieve the bodies of eight climbers. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

LUCKNOW — Indian paramilitary soldiers have reached the bodies of seven of eight members from a team of international climbers believed killed on a notoriously dangerous Himalayan mountain, an official said June 23.

An administrator of Uttarakhand state, Vijay Jogdande, said the soldiers reached the bodies, but they had yet to be identified. The bodies will now be brought from where they were found at an altitude of more than 5,000 meters (16,400 feet) to the base camp.

Veteran British mountaineer Martin Moran led a team of four Britons, two Americans, an Australian and an Indian on an expedition on Nanda Devi East. Moran’s Scotland-based company said contact with the team was lost on May 26 following an avalanche. Officials said they were all presumed dead.

Five bodies believed to be from the missing team were spotted by air nearly two weeks ago.

Ground expeditions by the Indian paramilitary forces and the Indian Mountaineering Foundation were launched after helicopter missions failed to reach the area.

The search for the missing eighth mountaineer will continue, Jogdande said. 

Paramilitary spokesman Vivek Pandey said poor weather June 24 prevented helicopters from operating in the area. He said soldiers were still searching the snow-covered area for the eighth climber.

H.S. Chauhan, president of the Indian Mountaineering Foundation, said authorities would decide on an air evacuation of the bodies depending on weather conditions. Ground expeditions also are in the area for the task.

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