Indian pilots spot 5 bodies in search for missing climbers



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NEW DELHI (AP) — Indian air force pilots spotted five bodies Monday in the Indian Himalayas while searching for eight climbers who have been missing for a week.

Dr. Vijay Kumar Jogdande, a civil administrator in the northern state of Uttarakhand, said the bodies, which he believes are those of some of the missing climbers, were found before a rescue operation was suspended for the day because of heavy snowfall and high winds.

An operation to find the other three mountaineers will resume Tuesday, Jogdande said, cautioning that they may have been buried in an avalanche that struck the section of the mountain where they were attempting their ascent earlier this week. Government officials are consulting the Indian army and Indo-Tibetan Border Policy on how to retrieve the bodies.

"There is always a fear that people going for the rescue may get stuck there," Jogdande said.

The team, led by British climber Martin Moran, began its ascent May 13 of the previously unclimbed and unnamed peak on Nanda Devi East at 6,477 meters (21,250 feet), according to Moran Mountain, Moran's Scotland-based company. The team includes four Britons, two Americans, an Australian and an Indian liaison officer.

The team had last been in touch with base camp on May 26, according to four members of their expedition, all British nationals, who had remained there, hemmed in by the heavy snowfall and rescued Sunday.

Amit Chowdhary, spokesman for the Indian Mountaineering Foundation, said that when the team at base camp stopped receiving radio updates from the other expedition team, one person went to look for the missing climbers the next day.

Jogdande said the climbers rescued from base camp received first aid at a hospital in the town of Pithoragarh and were later released.

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The Associated Press

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