Spanish climber stuck in Pak, PM intervenes

MADRID: Spain’s prime minister expressed concern to his Pakistani counterpart today over an injured Spanish climber stranded for the past week 6,000 metres up a mountain in Pakistan, government sources said.

Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero “requested that operations to rescue the climber Oscar Perez be speeded up,” in a telephone call to Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, the sources said. Gilani responded that a helicopter carrying rescuers and 500 kg of equipment has left for near the site where Perez is stranded, the source said.

But Gilani emphasised that it was “complicated” operation.

The daily El Pais said rescue coordinator Lorenzo Ortas appealed to Zapatero to intervene “to secure full cooperation from the Pakistani army” after attempts to coordinate a rescue mission by the Spanish embassy failed. Perez’s Spanish climbing club also expressed frustration at the pace of the rescue efforts.

“The news is desperate. Efforts in Pakistan are proving to be slow and complicated, although they officially have the full support of local authorities,” the club said in a statement on its website.

It said five top Spanish climbers travelled to Pakistan to join efforts to reach Perez who has been stuck on Latok I since he fell and broke his arm and leg on August 5 while scaling the north face of the mountain, which rises to 7,145 metres in the Karakoram range.

His climbing partner Alvaro Novellon was also injured but managed to make it down the mountain and sound the alarm and is now involved in attempts to rescue him.

A helicopter will not be able to pick up Perez at the spot where he is thought to be lying because the terrain there is too dangerous.

If the rescuers manage to find Perez they will have to carry him down the mountain to a height of 5,000 metres where helicopters will then be able to pick them up.