Bodies spotted in search for climbers missing in Himalayas

Five bodies have been spotted by Indian airforce pilots during the search for eight climbers missing in the Himalayas.

Martin Moran is among those missing. Picture: Facebook

Mountain guide Martin Moran, head of Moran Mountaineering in Strathcarron in the Highlands, leading the climbing party attempting to reach the top of an unclimbed peak in a remote area, is among the missing.

Searches have been taking place in a bid to find the missing climbers after the alarm was raised on Friday morning.

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District magistrate Dr Vijay Kumar Jogdande said the bodies were found in the Nanda Devi region before the rescue operation, in the northern state of Uttarakhand, was suspended because of heavy snowfall and high winds.

Dr Jogdande said officials are consulting the Indian army on how to retrieve the bodies before the search for the three others resumes today.

The expedition set out to scale a 6,477m (21,250ft) peak and had last been in touch with base camp on 26 May.

Mr Moran’s family have said it was “not entirely clear” what had happened to the group - which included another three British climbers - but said there was “clear evidence that a sizeable avalanche had occurred on the mountain”.

Avalanche debris was found near the group’s route.

Mr Moran has been a mountain guide since 1985 and set up his company, Moran Mountain with his wife Joy. The couple’s grown-up children Hazel and Alex both also work for the family business.

Academic Richard Payne, from the University of York, is believed to be among the group of missing climbers.

As well as four Britons, the group of eight is thought to include two American climbers, one Australian and one person from India.

Four other British members of the expedition team had already been rescued.

Mr Moran, one of the best-known names in British climbing, graduated in geography at Cambridge University before studying and qualifying as a chartered accountant.

However, climbing and the outdoors have always been his passion.

In the winter of 1984-85, Mr Moran and his wife made the first completion of all Munros - more than 280 Scottish mountains with a height of 914m (3,000ft) or more - in a single winter season.

He wrote about their adventure in the book ‘The Munros in Winter’.

A spokeswoman for the Foreign Office said: “We are in contact with the Indian authorities following reports that a number of British nationals are missing in the Indian Himalayas.“We will do all we can to assist any British people who need our help.”