Indian authorities begin mission to remove bodies of missing climbers from mountainside

By Sankalp Phartiyal

PITHORAGARH, India (Reuters) - Indian authorities began a helicopter mission on Wednesday to remove the bodies of five missing climbers believed killed in an avalanche high in the Himalayas, a government official said.

Eight climbers - four from Britain, two from the United States, and one each from Australia and India - were reported missing last Friday after they failed to return to their base camp near Nanda Devi, India's second highest mountain.

A rescue mission was launched and on Monday an Indian air force helicopter spotted five bodies partially buried in snow high on a slope.

The status of the other three climbers is not known, though officials have said the possibility of their survival is remote, and their bodies could be near the five that have been spotted.

The official said that the paramilitary Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force is carrying out the mission on Wednesday. The bodies will be brought to the town of Pithoragarh in Uttarakhand.

(Reporting by Sankalp Phartiyal in PITHORAGARH; Editing by Martin Howell and Darren Schuettler)

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