Indian paramilitary soldiers have reached the bodies of seven people from an eight-member team of international climbers believed to have been killed on a notoriously dangerous Himalayan mountain, an official said Sunday. The team, including two Americans, had been missing on Nanda Devi East for nearly a month.
Pittorgarh District Magistrate V.K. Jogdande told CBS News that a paramilitary force reached the location after at least five bodies were spotted by helicopters earlier this month. According to Jogdande, the bodies were found under snow and are now being kept in a temporary camp set up to allow rescuers to bring them down one by one over the course of the next few days.
Veteran British mountaineer Martin Moran led a team of four Britons, two Americans, an Australian and an Indian on the expedition. Moran's Scotland-based company said contact with the team was lost May 26 following an avalanche. Officials said they were all presumed dead.
The search for the missing eighth mountaineer will continue, Jogdande said.
H.S. Chauhan, president of the Indian Mountaineering Foundation, said authorities would decide on an air evacuation of the bodies depending on weather conditions. Ground expeditions also are in the area for the task.
Nanda Devi East is considered a notoriously difficult peak to summit. "In comparison with Nanda Devi East, Everest is a picnic," Manmohan Singh Kohli told The Associated Press in a recent interview. The 88-year-old tried and failed to summit the peak, which is India's second-tallest.
During a 1964 expedition attempt, Kohli survived two avalanches and two precipitous falls. Kohli is a winner of India's top honor for athletic achievements for his mountaineering feats.