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Tuesday 28 January 2020

Nanda Devi tragedy: Body of British mountaineer untraceable

The bodies of seven mountaineers, including an Indian, killed on the way to Nanda Devi East Peak in May were brought down on Wednesday

Nainital: Noted British mountaineer Martin Moran who led the eight-member team that perished on way to the Nanda Devi East peak was the lone climber of the group whose body could not be found.

The fact emerged after the identification of the seven bodies recovered from the western ridge of the peak was completed on Saturday, Nainital District Magistrate Savin Bansal said.

Moran was a well-known mountaineer who had already scaled the peak twice in the past. The eight-member team was reported missing on 25 May but it took the ITBP nearly one month to retrieve seven bodies from the western ridge of the peak on 23 June after a massive operation often hampered by inclement weather.

While the body of Indian Mountaineering Foundation liaison officer Chetan Pandey, who was part of the team, was identified by relatives on Wednesday itself the remaining six were identified on Saturday after their photographs were sent to their respective embassies and high commissions in Delhi, Bansal said. Those identified today included John Charles McLaren, Richard Payne and Rupert James Whewell from Britain, Anthony Edward Sudekum and Ronald Isaac Beimel from the US and Ruth Margaret Mc Cance, the lone woman mountaineer of the group from Australia, he said.

The body of the lone Indian in the team was identified quickly as he hailed from neighbouring Almora and his relatives rushed to Haldwani to identify it, he said.

The bodies kept at the mortuary of Haldwani’s Sushila Tiwari Hospital will be handed over to officials of their respective diplomatic missions, the DM said.

The bodies of seven mountaineers, including an Indian, killed on the way to Nanda Devi East Peak in May were brought down on Wednesday, ending an operation that involved ITBP climbers and IAF helicopters.

Besides the IAF’s help, it took a 15-member ITBP team a total of 500 hours spanning over 15 days to bring back the mortal remains of seven climbers from the Nanda Devi mountaineering route so that the families of the deceased find closure of the tragic episode.

The bodies were flown to the Pithoragarh’s Naini Saini airport in IAF helicopters in the afternoon from a base camp at an altitude of 15,250 ft in the mountains, where a 15-member team of the ITBP climbers had brought them down from the Nanda Devi route on their shoulders from another base camp at 18,000 ft.

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