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India sends second team to find missing climbers

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New Delhi (AFP)

A second team of mountaineers set off Thursday to look for eight climbers, seven of them foreigners, feared killed on the country's second-highest mountain, officials said.

The 10-strong group of highly trained climbers from the paramilitary Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) set off from Pithoragarh for the base camp of Nanda Devi East peak in the Himalayas.

From there they will try to reach the site where on June 3 a helicopter spotted five bodies and climbing equipment in the snow, at a height of about 5,000 metres (16,400 feet).

On Monday a separate team from the Indian Mountaineering Federation set off on a different route.

The four Britons, two Americans, one Indian and one Australian have not been heard from since May 26, a day before heavy snow fell and massive avalanches started.

The ITBP team is expected to reach base camp in a week and after acclimatising will try to reach the spot where the mountaineers were last seen.

"It will be (a) very challenging mission as the site is located at about 20,000 feet in between glacier and other snow hazard prone area," the ITBP said.

Attempts to drop troops by air to retrieve the bodies were aborted due to turbulent winds and the risk of further avalanches on the treacherous terrain.

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