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Last images of climbers recorded on a GoPro. ITBP

Footage recovered during search operation shows Himalayan climbers' final moments

The climbers were mounting a dangerous ridge when the footage went blank, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police said.

AUTHORITIES IN INDIA have released footage showing the final moments of climbers ascending the Himalayan mountain range. 

Four Britons, two Americans, an Australian and their Indian tour guide were attempting to climb to the second-highest peak, Nanda Devi, on 26 May before contact was lost. 

A month-long search operation commenced and the bodies of seven climbers were recovered in June. 

They were part of a 12-person expedition, but four Britons managed to break away from the group before a suspected Avalanche hit the mountain. 

The Indo-Tibetan Border Police released footage of the final hours of the climbers, recovered during the search operation.  

The 154 second clip shows them roped together in bright sunshine, taking synchronised steps along a narrow ridge towards the mountain peak. 

“Suddenly we noticed a loud noise. The video went blank and stopped,” said Vivek Kumar Pandey, spokesman for the Indo-Tibetan Border Police.

“They were crossing a very dangerous ridge. The snow cornice must have given away because of their weight, triggering an avalanche,” he told AFP.

The camera, that was carried by the final climber in the line, was found buried in snow near where seven bodies were uncovered.

An eighth climber, British team leader Martin Moran, is still missing, according to Indian authorities. 

“It was mesmerising for us to see the footage,” said APS. Nambadia, the ITBP deputy inspector general who planned the operation to retrieve the bodies.

“It will help us to analyse what went wrong with their mission,” he told a press briefing.

“The GoPro has proved to be like the black box of an aircraft giving an insight into the last few moments of the climbers.”

Nambadia said the operation to find the bodies at an altitude of 20,000 feet had been “extremely challenging”.

On June 3, a military helicopter spotted the bodies and climbing equipment in the snow but several attempts to airlift the bodies away were aborted due to fierce winds and the difficult terrain.

The ITBP then sent its expert climbers on foot to bring the bodies down.
S.S. Deswal, the ITBP director general, said the rescue team risked their own lives to retrieve the bodies “with respect and dignity”.

“We put our own lives at risk and undertook the operation by foot. We slept with the dead bodies on the side for days,” said Ratan Singh Sonal, an ITBP officer who led the rescue team.

“At night we would bury the bodies under snow outside our tents to slow down the decomposition process,” Sonal told AFP.

“But we were not afraid. We felt we are all a part of humanity.”

Nambadia said the exhausted rescue team almost cracked emotionally when they found the climbers’ belongings, including a toy penguin.

With reporting from © – AFP 2019

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