Officials planning to retrieve bodies spotted in search for Himalayas climbers

Scotland-based mountain guide Martin Moran, who was leading the missing team.
Scotland-based mountain guide Martin Moran, who was leading the missing team.
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Indian officials are working on a plan to retrieve five bodies spotted during the hunt for eight mountain climbers missing in the Himalayas.

The group - thought to be four Britons, two Americans, one Australian and an Indian liaison officer - disappeared on May 26 in the Nanda Devi region of the Himalayas after an avalanche.

Led by British mountain guide Martin Moran, the team was attempting to reach the top of an unclimbed peak in a remote area.

Four other British members of the expedition have been rescued.

District magistrate Dr Vijay Kumar Jogdande said the bodies spotted on Monday are thought to be from the missing expedition and are presumed dead.

The search for the remaining three mountaineers was suspended due to poor weather conditions.

Dr Jogdande also said state officials have devised a plan to use helicopters and a ground team to retrieve the bodies and search for the others.

However this needs approval from the Indian government in New Delhi due to the difficult terrain and risk of another avalanche.

Maninder Kohli, a mountaineer who runs a trekking company from New Delhi that has taken groups to Nanda Devi East base camp, said the snow level in the Indian Himalayas this year has been "abnormally high".

He added: "Apparently the walk up to the base camp alone was a tedious task because of the snow accumulation."

Mr Moran has been a mountain guide since 1985 and set up his company - Moran Mountain, based in Strathcarron in the Scottish Highlands - with his wife Joy, while their grown-up children Hazel and Alex also work for the business.

In an earlier statement, the Moran family said: "We are deeply saddened by the tragic events unfolding in the Nanda Devi region of the Indian Himalayas."

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

The rescued group, who had stayed back at the second base camp, were brought down on Sunday and given first aid at a hospital in the town of Pithoragarh before later being released.

They are Mark Thomas, 44, Zachary Quain, 32, Kate Armstone, 39, and Ian Wade, 45.

A spokeswoman for the Foreign Office previously 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."