ITBP team retrieves seven bodies of climbers from Nanda Devi

Australian woman Ruth Mc Cance on a previous climb

Camera Icon Australian woman Ruth Mc Cance on a previous

The bodies of the seven mountaineers who went missing three weeks ago near Nanda Devi have been kept at an advanced camp from which they will be brought to Nanda Devi base camp and then to Pithoragarh, said the District Magistrate (DM), Pithoragarh, on Monday.

A team of Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) mountaineers on Sunday retrieved seven bodies believed to be of the missing worldwide climbers from near an unnamed peak adjoining Nanda Devi East in Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand.

They had left Munsiyari on May 13 to scale the peak but did not return to the base camp on the appointed date of May 25.

The group, led by Martin Moran, a British mountain expert who ran Moran Mountain, was attempting to reach the top of an unclimbed peak in a secluded area.

The eight climbers were part of a 12-member expedition, but four Britons were rescued after breaking away. The mountaineers had gone missing on May 26 during an expedition to Nanda Devi East.

Moran's family said on June 6 the team had an "open permit" from the Indian Mountaineering Foundation (IMF) which covered Nanda Devi East "and all peaks which could be reached from the base camp, peak 6477 being one of these". The Indian Air Force (IAF) team conducted an aerial survey of Nanda Devi area and found five dead bodies lying in a glacier.

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

A status report obtained by The Associated Press said the challenges in retrieving the bodies included the "bowl-like" geography of the terrain, wind turbulence and the risk of further avalanches, and therefore recommended an expedition on foot. They had set out to summit an "unclimbed peak" in the northern state of Uttarakhand.

A university spokesman said: "Our thoughts remain with Richard's family, friends and colleagues at this hard time".

In addition to Moran, the climbers have been named as John McLaren, Rupert Whewell and University of York lecturer Richard Payne from Britain, US nationals Anthony Sudekum and Ronald Beimel, Australian Ruth McCance and Indian guide Chetan Pandey.

Climber Nigel Vardy, who has known Mr Moran for 20 years, previously described him as "an absolute professional and genuinely a really, really nice guy".

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