NEW DELHI: In a first, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) will soon have special teams at high altitude areas in five states for immediate rescue of mountaineers and trekkers.
“There has been an increase in expedition to the mountains and we want the mountaineers to feel completely confident and comfortable. To ensure this, we will have five special teams in high altitude areas in the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Uttarakhand, Jammu & Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh,” said ITBP Director General SS Deswal on Wednesday.
The chief of the ITBP also said that special teams comprising 40 members will start functioning in a month’s time. A 15-member Indo-Tibetan Border Force on Wednesday ended its 15-day long operation to locate the bodies of mountaineers killed on the way to Nanda Devi East Peak in May.
While the border force brought down seven bodies on Wednesday, it was unable to locate the eighth mountaineer due to heavy snow in the region.
The bodies were flown to Pithoragarh’s Naini Saini airport in IAF helicopters in the afternoon from a base camp at an altitude of 15,250 ft. The ITBP climbers had brought them down on their shoulders from another base camp at 18,000 ft, said Deswal.
Following detection of the bodies, the ITBP managed to reach them on foot after an “arduous” trek as IAF helicopters failed to operate due to difficult conditions. The bodies were found at a height of around 20,000 feet. The dead include four from the UK, two from the United States of America and one each from Australia and India. “We are still looking for the eighth mountaineer. It is expected that the body would be buried under snow and once it melts it could be retrieved,” said the ITBP DG, who termed the operation “unprecedented” as the force has never executed a retrieval mission at such a height in the Himalayas.
The bodies of the eight-member climbing team were first spotted by the IAF’s search planes on June 3, days after they were reported missing.