Strong winds have again delayed a helicopter mission to retrieve the bodies of five climbers, including Australian Ruth McCance, from an infamously treacherous Himalayan mountain.
Magistrate Vijay Jogdande said the Indian Mountaineering Foundation could launch a ground expedition to help evacuate the bodies, which have been spotted at an altitude of 5,000 metres.
He was responding to a statement by the foundation on Saturday that it was ready to launch an expedition. The foundation complained that it has been waiting for the permission of state authorities for the past three days.
A helicopter mission to recover the bodies was postponed for a second day on Thursday due to high winds, rain and snowfall in the upper region of the eastern Nanda Devi area.
Five more bodies were spotted below where the eight-member international team was hit by an avalanche, and all eight missing climbers are feared dead.
“If we were not able to retrieve them before the monsoon hits then we’ll have to wait for at least two months before we can go into that area again,” said IMF spokesman Amit Chowdhury.
Sydney mountaineer Ruth McCance is missing presumed dead on Nanda Devi East along with British team leader Martin Moran, three other UK climbers, two men from the United States and an Indian liaison officer.
The foundation said its team of highly experienced mountaineers was standing by to move while it had a window of 15-20 days to complete the operation before monsoon rains arrive.
– with AAP