10 mountaineers dead after avalanche in India's Himalayas

More than 170 trainees from Nehru Mountaineering Institute were on an expedition to Draupadi’s Danda peak

CYR5GD avalanche in Himalaya
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Ten mountaineers are dead after an avalanche in India's Uttarakhand state on Tuesday.

Several are missing after more than 170 trainees from Nehru Mountaineering Institute set out on an expedition to Draupadi’s Danda peak in the Gangotri range when the avalanche hit early in the morning, trapping 29 of them.

"We have recovered 10 bodies. Efforts are on to rescue others trapped," Rakesh Meher of the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering told The National.

Eight people have so far been rescued, State Disaster Response Force officer Ridhim Aggarwal said.

“The rest of them are still trapped in a crevice. It was snowing an hour ago. Air Force and other rescue teams are there,” he told The National.

Bad weather was obstructing the rescue and relief work, Uttarkashi disaster management officer Devendra Patwal said.

"The eight mountaineers who were rescued are yet to be brought ... we are waiting for the favourable conditions to continue the rescue efforts," he told The National.

The two peaks are believed to be more than 5,600 metres high.

Helicopters deployed

Uttarakhand's chief minister Pushkar Singh Dhami said members of the National Disaster Response Force, the state disaster response force and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police had joined rescue efforts.

“The peak is around 16,000 feet. They were part of two basic mountaineering training courses and when they were on a mission to the peak when an avalanche hit. Eight of them were successfully rescued while 21 received injuries,” Vivek Kumar Pandey, an Indo-Tibetan Border Police official, told a local news channel.

He said helicopters were deployed to aid rescue efforts.

“We are hopeful to rescue all those trapped by afternoon,” he said.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh expressed his “anguish” over the “loss of precious lives”.

He further instructed the Indian Air Force to mount rescue and relief operations.

Uttarakhand is one of the top mountaineering destinations in the country. Every year, thousands of people visit the state’s Himalayan peaks in October when the months-long monsoon season ends.

But extreme weather and landslides have become common in the Himalayan state in recent years, something experts attribute to climate change.

At least 15 trekkers were killed after falling into a gorge following heavy snowfall near the 5,200-metre Lamkhaga Pass in the state in October last year.

More than 200 people were killed in February 2021 after a glacier avalanche caused flash floods that struck the state's Chamoli district, damaging two hydroelectric projects and roads.

Updated: October 04, 2022, 1:12 PM