Mountaineering mishap: WB govt sending team, third person goes missing

The West Bengal government is sending a two-member team to recover the bodies of Biplab Baidya and Kuntal Karar near Mount Kanchenjunga summit, even as there are reports of a third missing person from Kolkata during his ascent to Mount Makalu.

Dipankar Ghosh, who hails from Bali near Kolkata, is reportedly missing since Friday morning. He was part of the Seven Summits Treks expedition team to the fifth highest mountain Mt Makalu in which Indian Army officer Narayan Singh died at camp four on Thursday night while climbing down from the 8485-metre peak.

Earlier, Baidya and Karar were reported to be dead but their bodies are yet to be recovered and expected to be lying somewhere between camp four and the summit of Mount Kanchenjunga, the world’s third-highest peak at 8586-metre.

“There have been attempts to get them back by helicopter but so far no news of recovering both the bodies. I’m constantly in touch with Nepal government and the deputy high commission there for a coordinated approach,” Surajit Roy, additional director and EO joint-secretary in the department of youth services, told PTI.

Roy will reach Kathmandu on Saturday afternoon while the state government has already sent mountaineering advisor Debdas Nandy to recover the bodies.

Painting a grim picture, Roy said if they are not recovered within a couple of days the operation would have to be abandoned for a year or so.

“The weather is rough at the moment. If it does not happen within one or two days then the window period is gone. Maybe we will have to one more year for another recovery operation.

“Body lying at an altitude of 8,000-metre or more. It’s a huge height. It has to be carried to a lower camp. If the weather is rough no sherpa team will be ready to go,” Roy said.

He further said they cannot declare the duo dead unless they recover their bodies.

“It’s not technically correct. Technically we say they are ‘missing’. You cannot ‘declare dead’ as then the insurance and all sorts of formalities come in place. It’s declared dead only after you get the body and autopsy is done. I’ll be there to coordinate and facilitate recovery as soon as possible.”

Meanwhile, two other mountaineers Ramesh Roy and Rudra Prasad Halder, who had suffered serious frostbite while attempting to climb Mt Kanchenjunga, have been evacuated from Camp II early Friday.

“They are stable and being admitted to a hospital in Kathmandu. They are out of danger,” he said.