Rescuers search for eight climbers on Indian peak

New Delhi (AFP) –


Scores of emergency workers were battling bad weather Saturday to locate eight climbers missing on India's second highest mountain, an official said.

Four Britons, two Americans, an Australian and an Indian were set to climb the 7,826-metre (25,643-foot) Nanda Devi East peak -- near the border with China -- and return to the base camp last weekend.

But the group, led by British climber Martin Moran, who has successfully climbed the world's 23rd highest peak several times in the past, failed to report back to the Munsiyari base camp after starting the ascent on May 13.

"We have activated resources to trace the climbers after they failed to return to the base camp, but bad weather is hindering the operation," Vijay Kumar Jogdande, a magistrate in Pithoragarh district -- where the peak is located -- told AFP.

A porter stationed at the base camp in the northern Himalayan state of Uttarakhand said the climbers failed to return on May 26, prompting the search.

Jogdande said heavy rains and snowfall in the region had lasted a week and hampered aerial surveillance.

Teams are trekking to the base camp to trace the missing climbers and there was little information about their plans, he added.

He said investigators were verifying a May 22 Facebook post by Moran, in which he hinted the group may scale a never-before-climbed peak in the trans-Himalayan region.

Hundreds of climbers from across the world visit India to scale mountains located across the Himalayan belt.

India has 10 peaks above 7,000-metres, including Kangchenjunga -- the world's third highest -- sandwiched between India and Nepal.

Four Indians were among 11 climbers that died climbing Mount Everest in the latest season that ended this week.