At least 19 people were confirmed dead afterauthorities said Friday, with bad weather hampering a fourth day of search and rescue efforts.
A group of trainees and climbing instructors were caught in Tuesday’s massive avalanche near the summit of Mount Draupadi ka Danda II in the northern state of Uttarakhand.
“Nineteen bodies have been recovered. 10 people are still missing,” state disaster agency spokesman Ridhim Aggarwal told AFP.
“Rescue operations have resumed for the day but are subject to weather conditions,” he added. “The weather is bad.”
Police, disaster authorities and the Indian Air Force were mobilized to assist in search efforts, with 32 people successfully rescued from the mountain despite snow and rain.
A preliminary helicopter landing ground had been prepared near the avalanche site at 16,000 feet above sea level, Indo-Tibetan border police said on Thursday.
Sunil Lalwani, one of the rescued trainee climbers, credited the trainers for saving many lives.
“We were 50-100 meters from the summit with our trainers in front of us when suddenly an avalanche hit us and destroyed everyone,” Lalwani was quoted as saying by the Hindustan Times on Thursday.
“It happened in a matter of seconds and they threw us into a crevasse. We were somehow able to breathe… Because of them we are alive today.”
Among the bodies recovered earlier in the week was that of mountaineer Savita Kanswal, who had reached the summit of Mount Everest this year.
Kanswal was an instructor on the expedition and had been honored by the climbing community for summiting the world’s highest peak and nearby Makalu in just 16 days — a record for women.
Fatal climbing accidents are common in the Himalayas, home to Mount Everest and many of the world’s highest peaks.
In August, the body of a climber was recovered two months after he fell into a crevasse while traversing a glacier in the northern state of Himachal Pradesh.
Last week, famous US ski mountaineeron the slopes of Nepal’s Manaslu Peak after he went missing while skiing the world’s eighth highest mountain.
That same day, Nepalese mountaineer Anup Rai was killed and a dozen others injured after an avalanche on the 26,781-foot mountain.
Although no substantial research has been done on its impactAs for climbing dangers in the Himalayas, climbers reported widening crevasses, running water on previously snow-covered slopes and increasing formation of glacial lakes.