Indian air force pilots have spotted five bodies in the search for eight climbers missing in the Himalayas – one of whom is believed to be a York lecturer.

Martin Moran, who is originally from Tyneside, was leading a party of eight who were attempting to reach the top of an unclimbed peak on Nanda Devi, India’s second highest mountain.

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


Searches have been taking place after the alarm was raised on Friday morning.

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

He added that officials are consulting the Indian army on how to retrieve the bodies before the search for the three others resumes on Tuesday.

A University of York spokesperson said:

  • Dr Richard Payne is a lecturer in our Department of Environment and Geography.

    He is among a group of climbers currently listed as missing in the Himalayas.

    Everyone at the University of York is enormously concerned by the latest reports. Our thoughts remain with Richard’s family, friends and colleagues at this difficult time.

Lost touch with base camp

The team who were due to climb Nanda Devi. Dr Payne is second left. Photograph: Moran Mountain on Facebook
The eight-member expedition set out to scale a 6,477m (21,250ft) peak and had last been in touch with base camp on May 26.

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”.

Mr Moran has been a mountain guide since 1985 and set up his company, Moran Mountain, which is based in Strathcarron in the Highlands, together with his wife Joy – with the couple’s grown-up children Hazel and Alex both also working for the family business.

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.

Rescued group

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 included leader Mark Thomas, 44, along with Zachary Quain, 32, Kate Armstone, 39, and Ian Wade, 45.

Authorities said they had been in touch with the missing climbers until around May 26.

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.”

 

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