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Last rites begin for missing Sherpa

Dawa Wangchu. File picture

Darjeeling, May 23: The family of Dawa Wangchu, the Sherpa from Darjeeling who has gone missing along with Everester Chanda Gayen, started performing the last rites today.

Even though there was no official confirmation on the whereabouts of the climbers — the third climber is Mingma Temba from Nepal who is Wangchu’s cousin — the family of the Darjeeling-based Sherpa said they had lost hope of the search leading to any success.

Wangchu had married just five months back.

Mingma Sherpa, a relative of Wangchu, today said: “Whatever little information we are getting from Nepal suggests that there is very little chance of them being alive. That is why we had to take an extremely difficult decision of calling the lamas (Buddhist monks) to start the prayers. Five lamas started the rituals today and after a consultation with them and the family members, we will decide whether to perform the last puja after 21 days or 49 days.”

Gayen had been trying to conquer Kanchenjungha West along with Wangchu and Temba, when an avalanche came thundering down on Tuesday.

A member of the 24-year-old Wangchu’s family was also part of the expedition that was organised by a Nepal-based company.

“Our relative Tashi Sherpa is at the base camp. We spoke to him and some officials of the expedition company about the search operation. After that, we decided to perform the last rites of Wangchu,” said a relative.