By Agence France-Presse
Indian rescuers brought down on Wednesday the bodies of four out of eight climbers killed in an avalanche almost six weeks ago on the country’s second-highest mountain.
The four Britons, two Americans, one Indian and one Australian went missing in the last week of May trying to summit a virgin peak on Nanda Devi in the Himalayas.
After a lengthy and dangerous operation by elite Indian mountaineers the bodies of seven of the climbers were found roped together at 6,500 metres (21,300 feet). The eighth was not found.
With the area unsuitable for helicopters, the bodies were then brought down to base camp and four were airlifted to Pithoragarh, the main town in the area, on Wednesday. The other three were set to follow.
“We will complete the legal process of identification and postmortem and keep the bodies in a morgue,” local official Vijay Kumar Jogdande told AFP.
The foreign embassies will then be informed once this process has been completed.
The climbers were part of a 12-member expedition, but four Britons were rescued after breaking away.
The missing climbers last communicated on May 26, a day before heavy snow fell and massive avalanches hit the slopes.
The expedition — led by experienced British mountaineer Martin Moran — had permission only to climb the eastern peak of Nanda Devi, which has been summited before, according to Indian authorities.
But families of the climbers have disputed this.