Choppers retrieve 7 bodies believed to be Himalayan climbers

Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) personnel carry the body of a mountaineer retrieved from Nanda Devi after landing in a helicopter in Pithoragarh in the Indian state of Uttarakhand. (AFP)
Updated 03 July 2019

Choppers retrieve 7 bodies believed to be Himalayan climbers

  • Veteran British mountaineer Martin Moran was leading three other Britons, two Americans, an Australian and an Indian on an expedition to climb Nanda Devi East
  • After two weeks of climbing, soldiers retrieved the bodies at an altitude of more than 5,000 meters and moved them to a base camp, from where they were picked up by helicopters

LUCKNOW, India: Seven bodies believed to be from a missing team of international climbers were retrieved by helicopters from a notoriously dangerous Himalayan mountain in northern India on Wednesday, officials said.
Indian air force helicopters brought the bodies to Pithoragarh town in northern India’s Uttarakhand state, said Vijay Jogdande, a local civil administrator. He said the bodies were still unidentified because the faces were damaged and no identifying papers were found on them.
Veteran British mountaineer Martin Moran was leading three other Britons, two Americans, an Australian and an Indian on an expedition to climb Nanda Devi East. Moran’s Scotland-based company said contact with the team was lost on May 26 following an avalanche.
An eighth body hasn’t been found and authorities have abandoned the search.
“We tried our best but unfortunately we had to abandon the mission due to the limitation of terrain, snow hazards and inclement weather as monsoon has set in,” said Vivek Kumar Pandey, a spokesman for the Indo-Tibetan Border Force.
He said authorities are taking DNA samples from the bodies, and after identification will hand them over to their countries through diplomatic channels.
They were first spotted on June 3 from a helicopter but authorities were unable to retrieve them. On June 14, two teams from paramilitary soldiers and the Indian Mountaineering Federation were sent from two different directions to reach the area and retrieve the bodies.
After about two weeks of climbing, the soldiers retrieved the bodies at an altitude of more than 5,000 meters (16,400 feet) and shifted them to a base camp, from where they were picked up by helicopters on Wednesday.
Officials said the seven bodies were found roped together.
Sandwiched between India and China, Nanda Devi East is a twin peak of Nanda Devi, India’s second-highest mountain and the world’s 23rd highest. The two peaks are connected by a razor-sharp 2-kilometer (1.2-mile) ridge at an elevation of 6,666 meters (22,000 feet).
Tenzing Norgay, the first man to climb Mount Everest along with Sir Edmund Hillary, recently described Nanda Devi East as the toughest peak in the Himalayas. Since so few have managed to climb it, the mountain has remained pristine, unlike littered and congested Everest.


Morocco, Spain to hold talks about overlapping territorial waters

Updated 25 January 2020

Morocco, Spain to hold talks about overlapping territorial waters

  • The territorial waters Morocco has claimed include the coast off Western Sahar
  • The territory has been contested between Morocco and the Algerian-backed Polisario Front since the Spanish colonial period ended in 1975

RABAT: The Moroccan and Spanish foreign ministers said on Friday their countries would hold talks about overlapping areas of ocean that they both claim rights to in the North Atlantic.
The territorial waters Morocco has claimed include the coast off Western Sahara, a territory that has been contested between Morocco and the Algerian-backed Polisario Front since the Spanish colonial period ended in 1975.
Morocco’s parliament passed two bills this week to give domestic legal cover to a coastal area the North African country already controls, causing concern in Spain’s Canary Islands, where the government warned of overlaps with Spanish territorial waters.
Morocco’s foreign minister Nasser Bourita said that defining territorial waters was a “sovereign right” and that his country aimed to upgrade domestic law in compliance with the UN law of the sea convention.
“In case of overlaps, international law requires states to negotiate,” said Bourita following talks with his Spanish peer, Arancha Gonzalez Laya.
“Morocco rejects unilateral acts and fait accompli,” he said, adding that Spain was a “strategic partner” and Morocco’s largest trading partner.
Gonzalez Laya said Morocco’s willingness to negotiate “reassures the Canary Islands.”
“Morocco is a source of stability for Spain,” she said, citing “close cooperation” in the fight against jihadists and illegal migration.