Avalanche kills at least 26 mountaineers in Indian Himalayas

©Twitter IAF

In the state of Uttarakhand, in the north of India, an avalanche swept away a group of 40 Indian mountaineers and their instructors at an altitude of 4800 meters on October 4. Despite the search and rescue efforts, the toll was extremely high, with 26 dead and three missing.

The autumn of 2022 will go down in the annals of the Himalayas as catastrophic, due to heavy snowfall. This post-monsoon caused deadly avalanches in Manaslu, Nepal, and affected the entire Himalayas. In India, on 4 October, a team of 41 climbers, including 34 trainees and 7 instructors from the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering (NIM) were swept away by an avalanche on the slopes of Draupadi ka Danda II, 5670 m. Initially, ten of them were found dead. The army dispatched to the site has now found 26 bodies, and there are still three missing persons, who are probably also dead, which brings the death toll to 29. A terrible toll. Survivors say that the avalanche not only buried some of them, but that others were thrown into a crevasse by the avalanche itself. The authorities sent the Indian army and its helicopters to help the survivors.

Heli rescue ©IAF – Twitter

Draupadi ka danda II ©Wiki – CC-BY-SA

The Indian Air Force Command said on its twitter account: “Despite difficult terrain and adverse weather conditions, rescue operations are continuing in the Uttarakhand avalanche. Indian Air Force helicopters with IAF, Army personnel on board continue to recover survivors and mortal remains. Operations to replenish food rations and basic necessities are also underway.”

Among the deceased instructors was Himalayan climber Savita Kanswal, the first Indian woman to climb Everest and Makalu in 2021, and in just 16 days.

Founded in 1965, the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering (NIM) is considered one of the best mountaineering institutes in India. It aims to introduce and educate young men, women and school children to the mountains and nature through its various mountaineering and adventure courses. Located in the Garhwal massif (where the Shivling, Thalay Sagar, Bagirathi…), the Draupadi ka Danda II is a peak in the Gangotri region, a place of pilgrimage near the sources of the Ganges.