Indian Avalanche Survivor Aakash Lalwani, one of the rescued climbers, said the wall of snow took everyone down in a matter of seconds and threw them into a deep crevasse. “We were lucky that we could somehow breathe”.
A training expedition in the Himalayas was hit by a massive avalanche on a steep range in northern India, killing at least 16 and leaving about 10 others still missing.
About 15 people had been rescued as of Thursday, two long days after the expedition from the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering (NIM) were caught in the avalanche.
The avalanche struck around 17,000 feet near Mount Draupadi ka Danda-II as the team was returning from the summit. Draupadi ka Danda-II is in the Uttarakhand region.
Most of the Indian avalanche survivor are still in shock according to Vivek Pandey of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police.
Heavy rain and snowfall has limited both air and ground rescue efforts. On Wednesday a halt was called to rescue operations. The weather also posed a challenge to retrieving the bodies of those who died, officials said.
“Considering weather and other conditions, it is a difficult operation, which might continue for a couple of days,” Pandey said.
Many of the missing trainees were trapped in the 60- to 70-foot crevasse for at least two hours. “The hopes of survival are very bleak as the golden period of rescue in such situations is not even a couple of hours,” he said.
Among the dead was accomplished climber Savita Kanswal, the first Indian woman to summit Mount Everest and Mount Makalu. Kanswal, 27, was serving as an instructor on this week’s expedition.
Fourteen trainees were also among those killed, officials said.
Two Indian Air Force helicopters were sent to the region for the search.
Fatal climbing accidents are common in the Himalayas. In August, the body of a mountaineer was recovered two months after he fell into a crevasse while crossing a glacier in nearby Himachal Pradesh.
Oct. 7, 2022