Ten bodies were spotted after a 41-member team from the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering was trapped when an avalanche struck at Mount Draupadi Ka Danda-2 peak in Uttarakhand’s Uttarkashi district on Tuesday, the institute’s principal said.
The State Disaster Management Authority has confirmed four deaths so far. The disaster management authority said a team of five State Disaster Response Force personnel and three instructors from Nehru Institute of Mountaineering (NIM) were dropped off at the institute’s Dokrani Bamak glacier base camp to conduct the search and rescue operation.
Two helicopters from the Indian Air Force (IAF) base camp in Uttar Pradesh’s Sarsawa also conducted a recce of the avalanche site before returning to Harshil helipad.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi expressed grief at the loss of lives in the incident.
The avalanche struck at an altitude of around 17,000 feet about 8.45 am when the team of 34 trainee mountaineers and seven instructors from Uttarkashi-based NIM was returning after summitting, principal Colonel Amit Bisht said.
The team members got stuck in crevasses following the avalanche, Col Bisht said.
Ten bodies were spotted, of which four have been recovered, he added.
Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami visited the State Disaster Management Authority office at the secretariat for an update. He has also cancelled all his programmes for Wednesday.
An Army ALH helicopter from Air Force Station in Bareilly is also waiting at the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) helipad in Matli to join the search and rescue operation on Wednesday morning.
Undergoing an advanced training course at NIM, the team of mountaineering trainees along with their instructors had gone to the peak for high altitude navigation, Col Bisht said.
Uttarkashi Disaster Management Officer Devendra Patwal had said earlier in the day that eight of those trapped were rescued.
Rescue operations have been halted for the night due to darkness and bad weather.