Japanese climber’s body found in GB

Published June 16, 2024
A combination photo of missing Japanese mountaineers Atsushi Taguchi (L) and Ryuseki Hiraoka. — Photo: Sat Wat
A combination photo of missing Japanese mountaineers Atsushi Taguchi (L) and Ryuseki Hiraoka. — Photo: Sat Wat

GILGIT: The body of one of the missing Japa­nese climbers was found on Saturday, five days after they went missing on the Spantik peak in Shigar Valley, officials said.

Shigar Deputy Commi­ssioner Waliullah Falahi confirmed to Dawn that the body of Ryuseki Hiraoka has been found.

“The nine-member rescue team recovered the body of one climber and kept it at a safe place. Now they are searching for the other climber,” he said while referring to Atsushi Taguchi, who couldn’t be located.

The deputy commissioner said that the rescue operation had been suspended, and the team returned to base camp on Saturday evening.

Earlier in the day, the team descended 300 metres deep in a crevice to rescue the missing climbers where they were feared to have fallen.

It has not been decided yet to bring down the body from the peak, Mr Falahi said, adding that the decision will be made after consultation with the family and Japanese embassy officials.

“Rescue teams are doing everything possible to support the search operation and ensure a swift and safe conclusion,” said a spokesperson for the Shigar DC’s office.

“We understand the difficulty of the situation and are working closely with the Japanese authorities to ensure a successful outcome.”

The Japanese Embassy in Islamabad and consulate in Karachi have been informed of the developments and Pakistani authorities are working closely with them to ensure a swift and safe conclusion to the search operation, according to the Shigar DC.

Naiknaam Karim, the CEO of Adventure Tours Pakistan, who was the missing climbers’ tour operator, confirmed that one body had been found.

The climbers apparently slipped from a slope and fell down 300 metres in a crevice, Mr Karim said and added that survival in such conditions was very difficult.

The two mountaineers were climbing the peak in Alpine style — without porters — and had reached Camp 2, situated at an altitude of 5,300m, on Monday.

When another seven-member Japanese expedition team reached the camp the next day, they were not there.

Ground rescuers were unable to trace them in an initial attempt on Wednesday; however, they were located by Pakistan Army helicopters on Thursday during an aerial search operation.

Earlier, DC Falahi said due to the challenging terrain and weather conditions, the helicopters were unable to land or hover in the area to rescue them.

A ground team comprising four Japanese and six local high-altitude mountaineers started the operation from the ground on Friday morning.

Published in Dawn, June 16th, 2024

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