In the case of mountaineers stranded and feared dead near Nanda Devi East peak, the Pithoragarh District Magistrate,Vijay Kumar Jogdande said that it may take a fortnight or more to retrieve the bodies, depending on factors like the weather. On Thursday, the DM conducted a meeting with officials of the Indian Air Force, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) and Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP). Two additional helicopters of Indian Air Force with additional pilots have also reached Pithoragarh. Meanwhile, the group of Polish mountaineers, which reached Nanda Devi base camp despite the information conveyed to them for stopping at Martoli are still at Nanda Devi East base camp.
DM Jogdande told The Pioneer, “The meeting was held to discuss an alternate plan for the safe retrieval of the bodies. Two IAF helicopters conducted reconnaissance to find alternate landing area and we will be going ahead with the plan in which our troops will be dropped at the place slightly away from the avalanche site. From there the troops will be going slowly in a step by step manner towards the avalanche site to retrieve the bodies. This process requires longer time, probably more than 15-20 days or more. After that when the bodies are retrieved and taken to some suitable place from where the air-lifting by the helicopters is feasible, the helicopter will be called again for the mission. It will take about three to four days for the team members to prepare for this.”
About the Polish group, which is reportedly not agreeing to come back from Nanda Devi East base camp he said, “We have already cancelled their permits and they have been informed about this. We have intimated the Indian Mountaineering Foundation that it is a riskier position because there are lots of avalanches in the area, and recently we have experienced big casualties. If they do not come back and IMF fails to do anything we will cancel all the permission from Pithoragarh that IMF enjoys presently. If anything happens after this, the IMF will be responsible for it.”
About the next course of action, the Deputy Inspector General of ITBP, State Headquarters Bareilly APS Nimbadia said, “ITBP will be leading the team of specialist officers from ITBP, NDRF and SDRF. This is going to be a full fledged expedition. It will be a hybrid in nature; it will be the combination of land route as well as the aerial effort. The aerial effort will be done only up to the area where it is safe for the helicopters. One team will be dropped down from helicopter and for the backup another team will be sent through Pindari route. We cannot say for certain when the expedition will take place, because it is going to be a complicated procedure. For that we conducted briefing on Thursday.”
About the Polish group he said, “ITBP was asked by the DM to convey the message to the Polish group near Martoli. We conveyed it but they did not stop. We had immediately informed the DM about the situation.”
Pithoragarh Superintendent of Police, RC Rajguru said, “There was a briefing conducted by the DM with IAF, ITBP, NDRF, SDRF and us. Two additional helicopters and pilots have been sent to Pithoragarh and they have already done a recce here. The area where the bodies were spotted is a bowl like area, in our attempts earlier it was not possible for the helicopter to hover and the induction, de-induction process to be completed safely.”
It will be recalled that eight members of a mountain climbing expedition had gone missing while attempting to scale India’s second highest peak. Five bodies were spotted some days ago by an IAF chopper in the area.
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