ISLAMABAD: Bad weather has hindered all search and rescue operations for the three Spanish mountaineers who went missing on Gasherbrum I (G-I) after summiting the peak on July 21.

The Alpine Club of Pakistan (ACP) had initially stated that four members of the international expedition had gone missing, but later rectified the figure.

“The fourth climber, Alfredo Garcia, did not join the three for the final summit push and stayed back in Camp-III because of frost bite,” said Member Executive Council ACP Karrar Haidri.

Syed Anwar, tour operator of the expedition, said Alvaro Paredes Izquierdo, Abel Alonso Gomez and Javier Comez Gutierrez were still missing.

He confirmed that due bad weather and snowfall, the pair of Pakistan army helicopters flown to rescue them could not launch a search operation.

Mr Anwar added that bad weather was likely to continue for another day before helicopters could be flown. However, the delay would further decrease the climbers’ chances of survival. He said the mountaineers were also low on both food and water.

Col Manzoor Hussain, the ACP president, said, “The odds are against the climbers who face temperatures reaching negative 30 to 40 degrees Celsius at night, winds of 100 kilometers per hour and no tent or food.”

The Alpine Club said all expeditions had to deposit a mandatory $10,000 security fee (refundable if air support was not used) with the Askari Aviation, which then called in army helicopters if aerial search and rescue was needed. Although the Spanish expedition had not deposited the sum, the Embassy of Spain in Islamabad took care of the bill for aerial support. —Staff Reporter

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