Five of the 11 missing hikers, who started their expedition from Uttarakhand, were found dead Thursday in Kinnaur, Himachal Pradesh, a senior official said, adding that the bodies were recovered by challenge teams led by the army and the ITBP.
Four hikers are still missing, while two, including a guide, were rescued, Kinnaur deputy commissioner Abid Hussain Sadiq said.
A team of 17 hikers left Harsil in Uttarakhand’s Uttarkashi district for Chitkul in Kinnaur on October 11. On Wednesday evening, six of them reached Kinnaur and informed the administration that several more got stuck in the snow at Lamkhaga Pass during bad weather.
Lamkhaga Pass, located at an elevation of 20,000 feet above sea level, is one of the most difficult passes that connects Kinnaur to Uttarkashi.
Sadiq said the military and ITBP launched a rescue operation Thursday morning and recovered the bodies of five hikers in the snow at various locations. The bodies will be airlifted to Uttarkashi on Friday, he added.
Of the two hikers who were rescued, one is said to be in very critical condition, he said. , adding A hiker and guide were rescued. The hiker was taken to Uttarakashi by a helicopter, while the guide is with army soldiers and he too will be airlifted to Uttarakhand on Friday, he added.
The rescue operation had to be suspended due to bad weather at 2 p.m. Thursday, the official said, adding that it would resume at 6:30 a.m. on Friday.
According to reports, a team of eight hikers from West Bengal, one from Delhi and three cooks set out from Harsil on October 11 via a trekking agency. They had obtained an interior line permit from the Uttarkashi Forest Department from October 13 to 21.
Team members have been identified as Anita Rawat (38) from Delhi, and Mithun Dari (31), Tanmay Tiwari (30), Vikash Makal (33) Saurav Ghosh (34) Saviayan Das (28), Richard Mandal ( 30) and Suken Manjhi (43), all from Calcutta. The kitchen staff have been identified as Devendra (37), Gyan Chandra (33) and Upendra (32), all from Purola to Uttarkashi.
SDPO Bhavnagar Raju said the rescue team had yet to identify the bodies.