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Hunt for Chanda called off

- Nepal issues family a certificate saying she could be dead

The search for mountaineer Chanda Gayen 8,000-odd metres above sea level has been called off and the Nepal government has issued a certificate stating that she is missing and could be dead.

Inclement weather has made it impossible to search for Chanda in the snow, her brother Jyotirmoy said on Friday.

Chanda, a 32-year-old from Howrah, was the first Indian woman to scale Kanchenjungha Main (8,586m) along with Calcuttan Tusi Das. She went missing while trying to summit Kanchenjungha West on May 20.

Chanda was on her way to Kanchenjungha West (8,505m) when a rush of snow swept her and two of the sherpas accompanying her. She had scaled Kanchenjungha Main on May 18.

“I was taken to the base camp on a helicopter. I saw that it is impossible to continue with the rescue operation as rain has already set in there,” Jyotirmoy said at Nabanna, the state secretariat.

The certificate he got from the Nepal government is issued if a mountaineer cannot be traced within three days of being reported missing. A senior state government official said the document could be treated as a death certificate.

The government had sent two mountaineers to Nepal to oversee the rescue attempt. “But the operation never gained momentum as the weather there deteriorated. The conditions were so difficult that our experts could not even make it to the base camp initially,” an official said.