28 mountaineering trainees feared trapped following avalanche in India

Representative: A snowcapped Himalayan mountain peak seen in Uttarakhand in this picture taken on 11 February 2021  (AFP via Getty Images)
Representative: A snowcapped Himalayan mountain peak seen in Uttarakhand in this picture taken on 11 February 2021 (AFP via Getty Images)

At least 28 trainee mountaineers are reportedly trapped and four are feared dead after they were caught in an avalanche in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand, northern India.

The avalanche struck a team of 28 from the Nehru Mountaineering Institute in Uttarkashi who were undergoing advanced training near Draupadi’s Danda-2 mountain peak, which rises to an altitude of 5,771m, located in the Gangotri range of the Garhwal Himalayas.

According to preliminary media reports, eight members of the team had successfully been evacuated by rescuers as of late Tuesday afternoon, local time.

Rescue operations were underway to rescue the remaining trainees, said Uttarakhand chief minister Pushkar Singh Dhami, adding that the state administration was working alongside national disaster response teams and the army to rescue the mountaineers.

“Information about 28 trainees of Nehru Mountaineering Institute being trapped following an avalanche in Draupadi’s Danda-2 mountain peak has been received. Rapid, relief and rescue operations underway by the district administration, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), State Disaster Response Force (SDRF), Army and Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) personnel,” he tweeted.

Indian Air Force helicopters have been deployed to aid the rescue operations, while others have been put on standby in case they are required, an IAF official was quoted as saying by the Times of India.

The country’s defence minister Rajnath Singh expressed his grief at the incident and his condolences over the first reported deaths.

“Deeply anguished by the loss of precious lives due to landslide which has struck the mountaineering expedition carried out by the Nehru Mountaineering Institute in Uttarkashi. My condolences to the bereaved families who have lost their loved ones,” Mr Singh tweeted.

“Spoke to CM Uttarakhand, Shri [Pushkar Dhami] and took stock of the situation. Rescue operations are underway to help the mountaineers who are still trapped. I have instructed the IAF to mount the rescue and relief ops. Praying for everyone’s safety and well-being.”