Everest update: Sherpas search for missing Indian climbers; chopper sent to airlift Dutchman’s body

KATHMANDU: With a group of rescuers struggling hard to bring down the body of an Australian woman climber from the Camp III to a lower camp, six Sherpas on Wednesday headed to the ‘death zone’ on Mt Everest above 8,000 metres to search for two missing Indian climbers as well as to retrieve the body of a Bengal climber.

According to the expedition organisers, a chopper has also been sent to airlift the body of Eric Arnold, a climber from the Netherlands, who died near the Camp IV after making it to the roof of the world on Saturday.

“A group of 13 Sherpas retrieved Arnold’s body and brought it to the Camp II,” Mingma Sherpa, owner of Seven Summit Treks, said. The rescuers also recovered the body of Dr Maria Strydom, an Australian mountaineer, near the Camp IV, but they could take her body only to the Camp III, he added.

“A helicopter has already landed at the base camp and it is now waiting for a fair weather to take off for the Camp II from where Arnold’s body will likely be airlifted to Kathmandu later today,” Sherpa told THT Online over phone from the base camp.

According to the rescuers, they were successful to take Maria’s body down only to the Camp III till now. “The team will make another attempt to bring her body to the Camp II,” Sherpa said, adding that his company deployed five more Sherpas as rescuers found the strength of 13 persons was inadequate to bring Maria’s body down.

The Monash Business School professor had died after suffering from altitude-related sickness while she was descending from the summit point along with her husband Robert James Gropel on Saturday.

Another team of six Sherpas also headed to the higher camps from the base camp this afternoon to retrieve the body of Subhash Pal, an Indian climber who died near the Camp III while descending from the summit on Sunday night.

If the weather allowed, the team would try their best to conduct the search for missing climbers - Paresh Chandra Nath (58) and Goutam Ghosh (51) - as well as bring Pal’s body back from higher camps to the Camp II, Wangchu Sherpa, the managing director at Trekking Camp Nepal, said.

Two Indian climbers went missing near the south summit point, which the climbers consider as the ‘death zone’ on Mt Everest, since Saturday.