Uttarkashi: Ten more bodies were recovered from the site of an avalanche here, taking the death toll to 26, the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering said on Friday. Two Cheetah helicopters took off from the Army helipad in Harsil to join the search operations, officials said.
The avalanche occurred at a height of 17,000 feet on Tuesday when a team of the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering (NIM) was returning after summiting Draupadi Ka Danda II peak.
Three more bodies were recovered from the avalanche site late on Thursday evening and seven were found on Friday, taking the total number of bodies retrieved so far to 26, the NIM said.
While 24 of these bodies are of trainee mountaineers, two are of their instructors, it said. According to the NIM, three trainees are still missing. Fifteen bodies were recovered on Thursday, the NIM said.
Four of the bodies that were being brought to Matli were taken to the Harsil helipad due to bad weather. From there, they were sent to Uttarkashi in ambulances, District Magistrate (DM) Abhishek Ruhella said.
Not all the bodies have been identified yet. The relatives of the deceased who have been identified have been informed, he said. Inclement weather hampered aerial search efforts but they continued uninterrupted on the ground, the DM said.
A heavy rain alert was issued by the meteorological department for several hill districts in Uttarakhand including Uttarkashi where schools were closed on Friday and disaster management teams were put on alert.
NIM instructor Nayab Subedar Anil Kumar, who survived the tragedy, told PTI on Thursday that 33 climbers took shelter in a crevasse during the avalanche.
Four bodies were pulled out of the crevasse on the day of the avalanche while 29 were still stuck, Kumar had said.
Army, IAF, NIM, Indo-Tibetan Border Police, High Altitude Warfare School (Jammu and Kashmir) and State Disaster Response Force along with the district administration are conducting the search operations that were launched hours after the avalanche struck on Tuesday.
The mountaineers who went missing after the avalanche were part of a team selected by the NIM for an advanced training course.