Five of the eleven missing trekkers, who started their expedition in Uttarakhand, were found dead in Himachal Pradesh’s Kinnaur district on Thursday, a senior official said.
While four trekkers are still missing, two have been rescued, Kinnaur Deputy Commissioner Abid Hussain Sadiq said.
The team of trekkers had left Harshil in adjoining Uttarakhand’s Uttarkashi district for Chitkul in Kinnaur district on October 11 but they went missing from October 17 to 19 in Lamkhaga Pass amid inclement weather, he said.
The Lamkhaga Pass is one of the toughest passes which connects Kinnaur district with Harshil.
The deputy commissioner said that the bodies of five trekkers were found buried in snow in different places by the rescue team. The bodies were gathered at one place and would be sent to Uttarkashi via helicopter on Friday, he added.
Two trekkers have been rescued but the condition of one of them is said to be very critical, he said.
A joint search operation is being conducted by the Army, ITBP and Kinnaur Police to trace the missing trekkers, he added.
A team of eight trekkers from West Bengal, one from Delhi and three cooks left from Harshil on October 11 through a trekking agency. They had obtained an inner line permit from the Uttarkashi Forest Department from October 13 to 21.
The team members have been identified as Anita Rawat (38) from Delhi, and Mithun Dari (31), Tanmay Tiwari (30), Vikash Makal (33) Saurav Ghosh (34) Saviayan Das (28), Richard Mandal (30) and Suken Manjhi (43), all from Kolkata.
The cooking staff have been identified as Devendra (37), Gyan Chandra (33) and Upendra (32), all from Purola in Uttarkashi.
The Uttarakhand government had informed the Himachal Pradesh government about the disappearance of this team at Lamkhaga pass, located at an altitude of 20,000 feet above sea level.
The deputy commissioner said that officials of the ITBP and the Army were contacted after receiving this information and a rescue operation was started by the forces on Thursday morning.
A trekker and a guide have been rescued. The trekker has been taken safely to Uttarkashi through a chopper, while the guide is with army soldiers and he will be airlifted to the Himalayan district in Uttarakhand on Friday, he added.
The rescue operation had to be suspended due to bad weather at 2 pm on Thursday, the official said, adding that it would resume on Friday at 6.30 am.