The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Hunt for climbers

Joshimath, Sept. 26: Major landslides have hit Uttarkashi where two mountaineers from Calcutta are now waiting without much hope for news of their two colleagues lost on the Kedardome mountain on September 17.

A red alert has been issued and the district administration is engaged in evacuating all houses and hotels at the base of Warunawat Hill on which landslides have been occurring since Wednesday. Several houses have been damaged and a hundred families moved out of the way of cascading earth and rocks. Rains, heavy and devastating in Uttaranchal this year, have killed 56 people, 713 domestic animals and damaged over 2,000 homes.

Bhandari Hotel, where the two mountaineers from Calcutta are staying, has so far not been affected. Eight other members of the team left for Calcutta on Wednesday.

Leader of the expedition Kajal Dasgupta has stayed back with another member Sushanta Saha to follow-up on the rescue operations started three days ago by the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering in Uttarkashi. Saha expressed hope that the two missing mountaineers, Tusharendu Kabir and Arijit Banerjee, might have taken shelter in one of the camps and could be waiting for the weather to clear before trekking down.

It is now nine days since the two disappeared in a cloud of snow after scaling the Kedardome summit. It was during celebrations that crevasses suddenly appeared on the snow-covered surface, engulfing Banerjee and Kabir. Saha said the crevasses were horizontal and not too deep. What looked like a snowstorm might have been an avalanche, he said.

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