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, its principal said.
However, the State Disaster Management Authority has confirmed four deaths. 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.
The avalanche struck at an altitude of around 17,000 feet around 8.45 am when the team of 34 trainee mountaineers and seven instructors from Uttarkashi-based NIM was returning after summiting, principal Colonel Amit Bisht said.
The team members got stuck in crevasses following the avalanche, Colonel Bisht said.
Ten bodies were spotted of which four have been recovered, he added.
Rescue operations have been halted for the night due to darkness and bad weather.
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 Barreily is also waiting at the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) helipad in Matli to join the search and rescue operation on Wednesday morning.
Earlier on Tuesday, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said that he is “deeply anguished by the loss of precious lives due to landslide which has struck the mountaineering expedition” carried out by the NIM in Uttarkashi.
“My condolences to the bereaved families who have lost their loved ones. Spoke to CM Uttarakhand and took stock of the situation. Rescue operations are underway to help the mountaineers who are still trapped,” he said.
The Defence Minister further said that he has instructed the IAF to mount the rescue and relief operations.
“Rescue operations are underway to help the mountaineers who are still trapped. I have instructed the IAF to mount the rescue and relief ops. Praying for everyone’s safety and well-being,” he added.
(With inputs from PTI)