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File photo of the Indian Himalayas. Alamy Stock Photo
Uttarakhand

At least four dead, 26 missing after avalanche in Indian Himalayas

A spokesperson for the State Disaster Response Force said 12 people have been rescued so far.

AT LEAST FOUR climbers have been killed in an avalanche in the Indian Himalayas, with 26 others still missing at nightfall after poor weather hampered rescue operations, officials said.

Media reports put the toll at 10 following the incident at around 4,880 metres in the northern state of Uttarakhand involving a group of several dozen climbing trainees.

“We had 42 members who were trapped in the avalanche, out of which four are confirmed dead… Twelve people have been rescued,” Ridhim Aggarwal from the State Disaster Response Force told AFP.

“The operation has been halted for the night because there was heavy snow in the area… Twenty-six people are missing,” Aggarwal said.

Earlier she said the group was stuck in a crevasse after the avalanche struck at around 8.45 am (4.15am Irish time) on the 5,670-metre Mount Draupadi ka Danda-II.

The Nehru Institute of Mountaineering said the group included 34 of its trainees and seven instructors.

Vishal Ranjan, registrar with the institute confirmed the four deaths and that the rescue operation “has been stopped for now because of heavy rainfall and snowfall in the region”.

“We sent two air force choppers to the region and the third one is here on standby for now because of bad weather there,” Devendra Singh Patwal, a senior disaster management official, told AFP.

“Deeply anguished by the loss of precious lives due to landslide which has struck the mountaineering expedition carried out by the Nehru Mountaineering Institute in Uttarkashi,” Defence Minister Rajnath Singh tweeted, without giving further details.

In August, the body of a mountaineer was recovered two months after he fell into a crevasse while crossing a glacier in the neighbouring state of Himachal Pradesh.

And last week, renowned US ski mountaineer Hilaree Nelson’s body was found on the slopes of Nepal’s Manaslu peak after she went missing skiing down the world’s eighth-highest mountain.

On the day of Nelson’s accident, an avalanche hit on the 8,163-metre mountain, killing Nepali climber Anup Rai and injuring a dozen others who were later rescued.

Although no substantial research has been done on the impacts of climate change on mountaineering risks in the Himalayas, climbers have reported crevasses widening, running water on previously snowy slopes, and the increasing formation of glacial lakes.

© AFP 2022

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