Disasters & Accidents

Indian avalanche death toll climbs to 19 as climbers trapped during training

New Delhi, Oct & (EFE).- At least 19 people including alpinists and instructors were killed and 10 remain missing after an avalanche earlier this week buried the participants of a mountaineering training course at a peak in northern India, as per the latest casualty figures released on Friday.

“Ten people remain missing and so far 19 dead bodies have been found in rescue operations, including three in the last 24 hours,” Survinder Singh Chauhan, the spokesperson of the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering, told EFE.

The NIM is an elite climbing institute in the northern state of Uttarakhand which trains both military personnel and civilians.

A group of 34 students of the advanced mountaineering course and six instructors were climbing the Draupadi ka Danda II peak – which is situated in the Himalayas and has an altitude of around 5,670 meters – when they were hit by an avalanche on Tuesday.

Chauhan said that search and rescue operations were still on, although bad weather in the area was hindering the work.

Mukesh Pawar, a former instructor at the institute who currently works as a mountaineering guide, told EFE that this was the first time such a massive avalanche had hit during the training course.

The NIM was established in 1965 by the Indian defense ministry and continues to operate in association with the body, offering basic and advanced mountaineering courses.

The advanced training course is of 28 days and includes rock and ice climbing techniques as well as climbing the peak hit by the disaster.

“It is an incredible institute and course, (…) it teaches you to identify the risks and how to react to them,” former NIM student Asim Waqif told EFE, calling the incident “very unfortunate.”

“I don’t know the cause of the avalanche, but in retrospect – now that I think about it – it seemed like it could be really conducive to avalanches. When a large group of people are climbing up slow, the track they make climbing up or down the slope can actually make the top layer of snow very loose,” he explained. EFE


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