Five bodies spotted by pilots in Himalayas in search for eight missing mountain climbers

Seth Jacobson
The climbers went missing in the Nanda Devi region of the Indian Himalayas (Picture: Getty)
The climbers went missing in the Nanda Devi region of the Indian Himalayas (Picture: Getty)

Indian air force pilots have spotted five bodies in the Himalayas while searching for eight mountain climbers who have been missing a week.

District Magistrate Dr Vijay Kumar Jogdande said the bodies were found on Monday before a rescue operation in the northern state of Uttarakhand was suspended because of heavy snowfall and high winds.

Martin Moran, who is originally from Tyneside, was leading the party of eight who were attempting to reach the top of an unclimbed peak in a remote area.

Dr Jogdande says an operation to find the other three mountaineers will resume on Tuesday.

He said officials are consulting with the Indian army on how to retrieve the bodies.

The climbers pictured before leaving for their expedition in Munsiyari town in the northern Himalayan state of Uttarakhand, India (Picture: Reuters)
The climbers pictured before leaving for their expedition in Munsiyari town in the northern Himalayan state of Uttarakhand, India (Picture: Reuters)

The eight-member expedition set out to scale a 6,477-metre peak and had last been in touch with base camp on May 26. Contact was lost after an avalanche.

Dr Jogdande says four British climbers rescued from base camp on Sunday received first aid at a hospital and were released.

Mr Moran's family have said it was "not entirely clear" what had happened to the group - which included another three British climbers - but said there was "clear evidence that a sizeable avalanche had occurred on the mountain".

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Mr Moran has been a mountain guide since 1985 and set up his company, Moran Mountain, which is based in Strathcarron in the Highlands, together with his wife Joy - with the couple's grown-up children Hazel and Alex both also working for the family business.

In a statement, the Moran family said: "We are deeply saddened by the tragic events unfolding in the Nanda Devi region of the Indian Himalayas.

"As a family, we share the same emotions that all next of kin are experiencing in not knowing the whereabouts or well-being of those closest to us."

Academic Richard Payne, from the University of York, is believed to be among the group of missing climbers.

Mountain guide Martin Moran, who owns the Moran Mountain trekking group that was leading the climb (Picture: Facebook)
Mountain guide Martin Moran, who owns the Moran Mountain trekking group that was leading the climb (Picture: Facebook)

The university said it was "extremely concerned for his safety", adding: "Our thoughts are with his family, friends and colleagues at this difficult time."

The Moran family said the climbing group "had set out to attempt an unclimbed, unnamed summit, Peak 6477m, and the last contact intimated that all was well".

As well as four Britons, the group is thought to include two American climbers, one Australian and one person from India.

Officials said that four other British members of the expedition team had been rescued.

A picture of missing British climber Martin Moran is seen inside the office where the search is being co-ordinated (Picture: Reuters)
A picture of missing British climber Martin Moran is seen inside the office where the search is being co-ordinated (Picture: Reuters)

The group, who had stayed back at the second base camp, were brought down on Sunday. They were given first aid at a hospital in the town of Pithoragarh and later released.

They included leader Mark Thomas, 44, along with Zachary Quain, 32, Kate Armstone, 39, and Ian Wade, 45.

They had been in touch with the missing climbers until around May 26, according to the authorities.

A spokeswoman for the Foreign Office said: "We are in contact with the Indian authorities following reports that a number of British nationals are missing in the Indian Himalayas.

"We will do all we can to assist any British people who need our help."

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