One mountain climber reportedly died and more than 100 other people, some of them Russians, Australians and Germans, went missing in India's Himalayas after a heavy snowfall.
The contact with the climbers was lost on Friday when their satellite phones apparently went out of order, said P.C. Dandriyal, a local official in the northern state of Uttarakhand.
"We have lost track of over 100 mountaineers, hikers, porters and guides from India and abroad who are stranded across Uttarakhand after heavy snowfall," said Dandriyal. It has been snowing heavily in the mountains for the past 36 hours and weather forecasters expected more snow over the weekend.
The trekkers were part of four teams and included four Russian climbers, seven Germans, and one from Australia. The rest were Indians.
At least 60 cooks, porters and guides accompanied the climbers, said Dandriyal. Officials did not release the name of the trekker who died or the circumstances of his death. Three of the teams began their trek on Sept. 18 near Gangotri, a Hindu pilgrimage site, while the fourth started the following day. They were supposed to finish by Oct. 5 at the holy shrine of Badrinath. The local government has asked the Defense Ministry to send helicopters to search for the climbers.
The Himalayas are a mountain range in Asia, separating the Indian subcontinent from the Tibetan Plateau. Together, the Himalaya mountain system is the planet's highest and home to the world's highest peaks: the Eight-thousanders, including Mount Everest. The Himalayas stretch across six nations: Bhutan, China, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Afghanistan. They are the source of three of the world's major river systems, the Indus basin, the Ganga-Brahmaputra basin and the Yangtze basin
The Himalayas have a profound effect on the climate of the Indian subcontinent and the Tibetan plateau. It prevents frigid, dry Arctic winds from blowing south into the subcontinent, which keeps South Asia much warmer than corresponding temperate regions in the other continents
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