Indian officials identify bodies of 3 British climbers

NEW DELHI — The bodies of three of the four British climbers who were part of an eight-member international expedition to a Himalayan peak have been identified and handed over to British High Commission officials, an Indian official said Saturday.

District Magistrate Vijay Kumar Jogdande said the fate of veteran British mountaineer Martin Moran, who led the expedition to Nanda Devi East in northern India, is still not known, with three bodies yet to be identified. An Indian climber's body was identified earlier in the week.

Moran led three other Britons, two Americans, an Australian and an Indian on the expedition. Contact with the team was lost on May 26 following an avalanche. The seven bodies were retrieved from a mountain range earlier this week.

The search for the eighth climber has been called off due to poor weather conditions.

Five of the bodies were first spotted on June 3 from a helicopter, but authorities were unable to retrieve them. On June 14, two teams comprising paramilitary soldiers and climbers from the Indian Mountaineering Federation were sent from two different directions to reach the area and retrieve the bodies.

After about two weeks of climbing, the soldiers retrieved the bodies at an altitude of more than 5,000 meters (16,400 feet) and shifted them to a base camp, from where they were picked up by helicopters on Wednesday and brought to Pithoragarh, a town in Uttarakhand state.

Officials said the seven bodies were found roped together.

Sandwiched between India and China, Nanda Devi East is a twin peak of Nanda Devi, India's second-highest mountain and the world's 23rd highest. The two peaks are connected by a razor-sharp 2-kilometer (1.2-mile) ridge at an elevation of 6,666 meters (22,000 feet).

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