By Our Staff Reporter
Uttarkashi/Dehradun, 6 Oct: The bodies of 16 climbers have been recovered, so far, from the avalanche site at Draupadi Ka Danda peak, even as weather continues to pose a major challenge in bringing these bodies down.
Meanwhile, the district administration has banned trekking and mountaineering activities from 6 to 8 October. This was announced by District Magistrate, Uttarkashi, Abhishek Ruhela, who added that this decision was taken in view of the warning of heavy rain and snowfall in high altitude areas by the Meteorological Department over the next three days.
Also, a rescue team from the High Altitude Warfare School, Gulmarg, Jammu and Kashmir, has reached the base camp to rescue the trainee climbers who went missing in the avalanche. This team landed at the base camp area of Draupadi Ka Danda. This team is considered to be expert in such rescues as Gulmarg is the only institute in the entire country where training is given on undertaking rescue at very high altitudes. This team and the teams from the state are waiting for the weather to improve.
The team that had left for the site from Matli helipad is held up due to bad weather and the recovered bodies could not be brought to Matli helipad. Now the team is waiting for the weather to improve. According to NIM, 16 bodies have been recovered, so far. Four bodies were found on Tuesday, 12 bodies were recovered today. As many as 29 people are still believed to be stranded at the avalanche site.
Last evening, the rescue team was three hours away from the spot when bad weather forced it to stop. According to the Indian Meteorological Department, there is a possibility of heavy rain in some districts of Garhwal Division over the next three days. There may be snowfall in the higher reaches of the district.
DM Abhishek Ruhela announced his decision to stop trekking and mountaineering activities in view of the safety concerns. According to the order, no team will be allowed for trekking and mountaineering during this period. The District Magistrate said that weather related information had also been given to the teams already trekking or mountaineering in the high Himalayan region so that they could stay at safe places.
The Registrar of the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering, Vishal Ranjan, said all the bodies that were recovered are being brought to the base camp. If and when the weather turns favourable, the recovered bodies would be transported to Matli helipad by helicopter on Friday. At present, light snowfall has been reported in Draupadi Ka Danda area, holding up the rescue operations.
Col Ajay Kothiyal (Retd), former Principal of NIM, says that the mountaineers of NIM are trained to deal with such situations. He reminded that NIM had also played an important role in the biggest disaster of 2013 in Uttarakhand. All the trainers at NIM are experienced and had participated in several rescue operations.