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India

Uttarkashi Avalanche: 10 More Bodies Recovered, Toll Climbs To 26

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami confirmed that 19 bodies have been recovered till now after an avalanche occurred when a team Nehru Institute of Mountaineering (NIM) was returning from Draupadi Ka Danda II peak.

Uttarkashi: Army personnel move towards the avalanche site to carry out rescue operations, in Uttarkashi district. (PTI Photo)
Uttarkashi: Army personnel move towards the avalanche site to carry out rescue operations, in Uttarkashi district. (PTI Photo)

New Delhi: Ten more bodies were recovered from the site of an avalanche here, taking the death toll to 26, the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering said on Friday. Two Cheetah helicopters took off from the Army helipad in Harsil to join the search operations, officials said.

The avalanche occurred at a height of 17,000 feet on Tuesday when a team of the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering (NIM) was returning after summiting Draupadi Ka Danda II peak. Three more bodies were recovered from the avalanche site late on Thursday evening and seven were found on Friday, taking the total number of bodies retrieved so far to 26, the NIM said.

Out of the 41 members who were part of a team from Nehru Institute of Mountaineering returning from high-altitude navigation from Draupadi Ka Danda II peak, 12 have been rescued and the search is on for the remaining 10.  Those missing are reportedly stuck in the crevasse in Dokraini Bamak glacier where the avalanche took place.

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Uttarakhand CM Pushkar Singh Dhami confirmed the toll while assuring that he is monitoring the rescue operation being carried out by 30 teams of NDRF, SDRF, ITBP, Indian Army, Indian Air Force, NIM and district administration.  Earlier, the rescue operation had taken a hit owing to inclement weather.

Who have we lost?

While 24 of these bodies are of trainee mountaineers, two are of their instructors, it said. According to the NIM, three trainees are still missing. Fifteen bodies were recovered on Thursday, the NIM said.

The deceased includes 26-year-old Savita Kanswal who is an instructor. She recently became the first Indian woman to climb Mount Everest and Mount Makalu in a period of just 16 days to set a national record.

2 October: 2.5 magnitude earthquake in Uttarkashi district

On October 2, 2022, two days before the avalance struck, a 2.5 magnitude earthquake hit Uttarkashi district. As per National Centre of Seismology, the earthquake took place at around 10:43 am on October 2 with its epicentre near Nald village in Bhatwari tehsil of Uttarkashi district. It so happens that the trek to Mount Draupadi ka Dana, which begins from Bhukki village, is situated in Bhatwari tehsil.

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A heavy rain alert was issued by the meteorological department for several hill districts in Uttarakhand including Uttarkashi where schools were closed on Friday and disaster management teams were put on alert.

NIM instructor Nayab Subedar Anil Kumar, who survived the tragedy, told PTI on Thursday that 33 climbers took shelter in a crevasse during the avalanche. Four bodies were pulled out of the crevasse on the day of the avalanche while 29 were still stuck, Kumar had said.

Army, IAF, NIM, Indo-Tibetan Border Police, High Altitude Warfare School (Jammu and Kashmir) and State Disaster Response Force along with the district administration are conducting the search operations that were launched hours after the avalanche struck on Tuesday. The mountaineers who went missing after the avalanche were part of a team selected by the NIM for an advanced training course.

(With Inputs from PTI)