LUCKNOW: Bodies of seven of the eight mountaineers, who were killed on their way to Nanda Devi East peak over a month ago, were flown back to Pithoragarh in Uttarakhand after a prolonged rescue operation called "Operation Daredevils' carried out by a team of Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) on Wednesday.
According to Pithoragarh DM VK Jogdande, the bodies were first brought to Munsiyari by Cheetah helicopters from camp one located at a height of 15,600 feet and then to Naini Saini airport in Pithoragarh by another IAF chopper.
The bodies will now be taken to Haldwani Medical College for post-mortem and identification, said the DM. Eight Mountaineers had set out on an expedition of the 7,434-metre-high peak from Munsiyari village on May 13 but went missing on May 25, the day they were supposed to reach their base camp. One of them is still missing.
The ill-fated expedition was led by well-known British mountaineer Martin Moran, who had scaled the peak twice. The first four bodies were reportedly retrieved early on Wednesday. In all 12 mountaineers had gone for the expedition to climb India’s second highest mountain. Four had split from the group and they were rescued from the base camp area on June 2. The remaining eight climbers, led by Moran, planned to attempt “an unclimbed peak” adjacent to Nanda Devi.
The other members of the team included John Charles McLaren, Richard Payne and Rupert James Whewell (from the UK), Ruth Margaret McCance (Australia), Anthony Edward Sudekum and Ronald Isaac Beimel (US), and liaison officer Chetan Pandey of India.
The climbers were reportedly killed after being hit by an avalanche. A 32-member team, including 11 mountaineers of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police, launched a fresh expedition to retrieve the bodies on June 13, days after IAF choppers failed to retrieve the bodies.
As per the sources, the ITBP rescue team had to dig out the bodies, which included that of a woman climber, buried under the snow on the western ridge of the peak towards the Pindari glacier on June 23.