Death toll from avalanche in Indian Himalayas rises to 19

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At least 19 people are confirmed dead after a year an avalanche hit climbers in the Indian HimalayasAuthorities said Friday that bad weather was hampering a fourth day of search and rescue operations.

A group of climbing trainees and instructors were caught in a massive avalanche near the summit of Mount Draupadi ka Danda II in the northern state of Uttarakhand on Tuesday.

“Nineteen bodies have been recovered. 10 people are still missing,” state disaster agency spokesman Ridhim Aggarwal told AFP.

“Rescue operations have been resumed for the day, but it depends on the weather,” she added. “The weather is bad.”

Police, disaster authorities and the Indian Air Force were mobilized to help with the search, with 32 people rescued from the mountain despite snow and rain.

An advanced helicopter landing pad has been set up near the avalanche site at 16,000 feet above sea level, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police said on Thursday.

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Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) personnel stand by during preparations for a rescue operation for missing mountaineers hit by an avalanche at the ITBP Matli heliport station on October 5, 2022.

Indo-Tibetan Border Police / AFP via Getty Images


Sunil Lalwani, one of the rescued trainee climbers, praised the instructors for saving many lives.

“We were 50-100 meters from the summit with our instructors in front of us when suddenly an avalanche hit us and took everyone down,” Lalwani was quoted as saying by the Hindustan Times on Thursday.

“It happened in a matter of seconds and we were thrown into the crevasse. Somehow we were able to breathe… Thanks to them we are alive today.”

Among the bodies found earlier this week was that of mountaineer Savita Kanswal, who climbed Everest this year.

Kanswal was the expedition’s instructor and was praised by the climbing community for scaling the world’s highest peak and nearby Makala in just 16 days – a women’s record.

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Evacuees (left) rest after receiving first aid at the ITBP Matli helipad on October 5, 2022, after being airlifted during a rescue operation for missing climbers swept away by an avalanche in the northern state of Uttarakhand.

Indo-Tibetan Border Police / AFP via Getty Images


Fatal climbing accidents are common in the Himalayas, home to Everest and several of the world’s highest peaks.

In August, the climber’s body was found two months after he fell into a crevasse while traversing a glacier in the northern state of Himachal Pradesh.

Last week, a well-known American ski alpinist Hilaree Nelson’s body has been found on the slopes of Nepal’s Manaslu peak after she went missing while skiing down the world’s eighth highest mountain.

On the same day, Nepali climber Anup Rai was killed and a dozen others were injured after an avalanche on the 26,781-foot mountain.

Although no significant impact research has been conducted climate change on the risks of climbing in the Himalayas, climbers reported widening crevasses, flowing water on formerly snow-covered slopes and increasing formation of glacial lakes.

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