Avalanche kills climber, injures six others in Ghizer valley

Updated June 18, 2019

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Adventure Tours of Pakistan, which has organised the expedition, said if weather permitted two army helicopters would start rescue operation to airlift the injured mountaineers and the body on Tuesday morning. — AFP/File
Adventure Tours of Pakistan, which has organised the expedition, said if weather permitted two army helicopters would start rescue operation to airlift the injured mountaineers and the body on Tuesday morning. — AFP/File

GILGIT: A local climber was killed while six, including foreigners, were injured when a snow avalanche hit a Pakistan-Italian friendship expedition while scaling a 5,300-metre high peak situated in Ishkoman valley of Ghizer district on Monday.

Adventure Tours of Pakistan, which has organised the expedition, said if weather permitted two army helicopters would start rescue operation to airlift the injured mountaineers and the body on Tuesday morning.

A seven-member Pakistan-Italian friendship expedition comprising four Italian climbers led by Tarcisio Bellò, Nadeema and Shakeela, students of Karakoram International University, and a guide namely Imtiaz from Shimshal valley, had started their adventure to climb an unknown 5,300-metre peak in Hindukush mountain range in Ishkoman valley on June 2.

Chief executive officer of Adventure Tours of Pakistan Naiknam Karim told Dawn that the climbers were hit by a snow avalanche at an altitude of over above 5,000 metres on Monday morning.

The avalanche killed guide Imtiaz and injured other members of the expedition.

“The details were still very sketchy because of lack of communication from the remote area. However, I am in contact with the affected climbers through satellite communications,” he said.

“As a Pakistani cook and his helper are at the base camp of the mountain and as soon as we receive information from them, we will contact the Army Aviation authorities and request them to initiate helicopter rescue operation to airlift the affected climbers,” he said.

Mr Karim said the injured climbers were not in a critical condition, but they were unable to move further as their equipment, ropes and tents had been taken away by the snow avalanche.

He said as the army helicopters were stationed in Skardu, around 300kms from the peak, and there was also no facility of refueling them during the rescue mission, the fuel was brought to Ishkoman valley on Monday.

Naiknam Karim said about 10 local high altitude porters had also been dispatched to help in the rescue operation.

Published in Dawn, June 18th, 2019