Rescuers searching for a group of missing climbers in the Himalayas have said the chances of finding them alive looked “bleak”.
The missing group, including four Britons, two Americans, an Australian and an Indian, began climbing Nanda Devi on 13 May.
The family of the British mountain guide, who is missing along with the climbers he was leading, said they are “deeply saddened”.
Martin Moran, who is originally from Tyneside and whose Scotland-based company Moran Mountain has run numerous expeditions in the Indian Himalayas, was leading the party as it attempted to reach the top of an unclimbed summit in a remote area.
While his family said it was “not entirely clear” what had happened to the group they said there was “clear evidence that a sizeable avalanche had occurred on the mountain”.
Mr Moran has been a mountain guide since 1985 and set up his company, which is based in Strathcarron in the Highlands, together with his wife Joy.
In a statement, the Moran family said: “We are deeply saddened by the tragic events unfolding in the Nanda Devi region of the Indian Himalayas.
“As a family, we share the same emotions that all next of kin are experiencing in not knowing the whereabouts or well-being of those closest to us.”
Mr Moran is also a member of the Torridon Mountain Rescue Team, which said: “The team are deeply concerned by the news that our member, Martin Moran, is missing on Nandi Devi.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and the families of the others missing.”
Yesterday, government official Vijay Kumar Jogdanda said an aerial reconnaissance of the area had been completed.
He added: “There were only tents spotted, but no human presence. The second helicopter has left for the recce. Chances of survival are bleak.”
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.”