ITANAGAR- Personal belongings of missing mountaineers Tapi Mra and his assistant Niku Dao were recovered from an area beyond Camp 2 of Mt Khyarii Satam in East Kameng district covered in a thick layer of snow on Monday.
Two months after two mountaineers from Arunachal Pradesh went missing, an independent search and rescue team on Monday located their belongings from a mountain located close to the Indo-China border, said a family member of one of the missing mountaineers.
Tapi Mra, the first person from Arunachal Pradesh climbed Mt Everest in 2009, and his assistant Niku Dao, have been missing since August 17 while attempting to scale the peak of Chiumo, located 6,890 metre above sea level, close to the McMahon Line. The government efforts to trace them were officially called off last month.
“The team reached Camp II of the mountain on Monday and found tent, sleeping equipment and other belongings like GPS, mobile phone, radio set, clothes and the national as well as Arunachal Pradesh flags,” Yatok Mra Nilo, sister of Tapi Mra, told journalists in Itanagar on Monday.
She said the 13-member search and rescue team, comprising local mountaineers and porters, informed about locating the belongings of the two mountaineers over satellite phone. They were, however, unable to find Mra and Dao, who are believed to be either buried under thick snow or fallen into a crevasse. More details are expected once the team reaches Seppa, the headquarters of East Kameng district.
Mra’s family members and the Tagin Cultural Society blamed the East Kameng district administration, especially deputy commissioner PA Polumatla for lack of coordination and delay in sending local mountaineers for search and rescue, which they feel could have saved Mra and Dao.
Due to remote location of the mountain and lack of communication network, information about the missing mountaineers reached Seppa, the headquarters of East Kameng district, on August 27—10 days after they went missing from an altitude of around 15,000 ft.
A foot-search that started on September 1 was called off six days later due to poor weather. Later, a team of army climbers and two local mountaineers were dropped at the base camp on September 11 to search for the two mountaineers.
But with no trace of them even at Camp II and weather deteriorating, which could have put the lives of the entire team at risk, the entire operation was called off on September 22 by the East Kameng district administration in consultation with the army officials involved in the search and rescue.
“We are totally dissatisfied with the search and rescue efforts. While the entire operation apparently lasted for 20 days, the real search at CAMP 2 took place only for one-and-a-half hours,” said Nilo.
“The deputy commissioner has to answer why he didn’t allow local mountaineers, who wanted to conduct search operations independently, to go ahead. If permission had been given earlier, the search parties could have found them alive. We demand the DC’s suspension,” she added.
East Kameng deputy commissioner PA Polumatla stated that the district authorities have no information about recovery of Mra and Dao’s belongings by the search and rescue team.
“I don’t have any intimation about such recovery and wouldn’t comment on the accusations made by Mra’s family members about the efforts we had put in to search and rescue both the mountaineers,” Polumatla said.