The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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German rescue dogs join hunt for missing trekker

Darjeeling, Nov. 5: Peno and Lego are on a mission where humans seem to have lost the battle.

The sniffer dogs have been brought from Germany to locate Hans Obermoyer, 49, a German tourist who went missing along the Yuksom-Gochela trekking trail in West Sikkim.

A Catholic priest, Obermoyer was last seen at Choka, about 12 km from Yuksom, while returning with four others of a German team on October 28, a day before the 10-day trek was to end at Yuksom.

The others reached the destination and waited for Obermoyer's return. When he did not turn up, they informed the authorities.

Since then, a number of search teams, including that of Sikkim police, have been sent to find Obermoyer in the mountains, but without much success. The teams have only been able to find the tourist's walking stick and his water bottle.

In a last-ditch attempt to find Obermoyer, a search team from Germany, including mountain rescuers Bauman Andu Simon and Diem Tanja, today arrived at Yuksom to conduct the search.

The sniffer dogs are trained in detecting the odour of decomposing bodies even in running water. However, they must be handled by an expert and it is important to ensure that they do not get tired for there are chances of the dogs losing interest in the mission.

'We are extending all support to the team. They have asked for a helicopter and we are providing them with it. The foreigners' registration office in Gangtok had informed the Union home ministry about the incident earlier,' Sikkim tourism secretary A. Srivastav said.

The team arrived at Bagdogra this afternoon and immediately left for Yuksom, in a five-seater Pawan Hans.

Sources said the team, accompanied by Gayzing sub-divisional police officer Mrinalini Srivastav, was to conduct an aerial survey of the area this evening but cancelled it. The survey will be conducted tomorrow.

'The copter left for Gangtok after dropping the German team at Yuksom and will be returning tomorrow to conduct the survey and then start the rescue operation,' said a source.

The team is also expected to take the help of locals to carry on its search.

The team is expected to stay in Yuksom till November 10.

Though it has been almost nine days since Obermoyer went missing, tourism department officials are hoping that, in a worst-case scenario, the team will at least find Obermoyer's body.

The tourist was not carrying any food when he went missing.

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