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Mission launched to retrieve bodies of climbers in Himalayas

A group of eight, including four Britons, disappeared on May 26 in the Nanda Devi region after an avalanche.

An operation is under way to retrieve five bodies spotted during the hunt for eight mountain climbers missing in the Himalayas (Chris Jackson/PA)
An operation is under way to retrieve five bodies spotted during the hunt for eight mountain climbers missing in the Himalayas (Chris Jackson/PA)

Mountaineers are to be dropped onto a mountain where five bodies were spotted during the hunt for eight mountain climbers missing in the Himalayas.

The group – thought to be four Britons, two Americans, one Australian and an Indian liaison officer – disappeared on May 26 in the Nanda Devi region of the Himalayas after an avalanche.

Led by British mountain guide Martin Moran, the team were attempting to reach the top of an unclimbed peak in a remote area.

Four other British members of the expedition have been rescued.

We are deeply saddened by the tragic events unfolding in the Nanda Devi region of the Indian Himalayas Moran family

Indo Tibetan Border Police officials said that the operation they are calling “Daredevils” was launched on Wednesday to retrieve the bodies, which were seen by air on Nanda Devi East in India’s Uttarakhand state.

Officials have said they presume all eight missing climbers are dead.

Approval to launch the operation had been sought from the Indian government in New Delhi due to the difficult terrain and risk of another avalanche.

The bodies, spotted on Monday, are thought to be members of the missing expedition, district magistrate Dr Vijay Kumar Jogdande said previously.

The search for the remaining three mountaineers was suspended on Tuesday amid poor weather conditions.

Mr Moran has been a mountain guide since 1985 and set up his company – Moran Mountain, based in Strathcarron in the Scottish Highlands – with his wife Joy, while their grown-up children Hazel and Alex also work for the business.

In an earlier statement, the Moran family said: “We are deeply saddened by the tragic events unfolding in the Nanda Devi region of the Indian Himalayas.”

Academic Richard Payne, from the University of York, is believed to be among the missing climbers.

The rescued group, who had stayed back at the second base camp, were brought down on Sunday and given first aid at a hospital in the town of Pithoragarh before later being released.

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