At least three porters were killed and four others were critically injured after they were struck by an avalanche while ascending the Baltoro glacier, officials said on Wednesday.
The injured are still trapped under the avalanche that struck an expedition team as it was crossing the glacier, a senior official said.
“We are trying to rescue them as early as possible,” said Basharat, a senior official in Shigar – the area where the 57-kilometre-long glacier is situated.
Located in the Karakoram Ranges, Baltoro Glacier is the world’s fifth largest glacier outside the polar areas. The glacier offers trekkers and expedition groups the easiest approach to K2, the world’s second highest peak.
Basharat said that the government was weighing the option of sending a helicopter to have the trapped people rescued. “The weather is clear today and the deputy commissioner is weighing the option,” he said.
The news of the incident from the unmanned glacier reached Skardu after others on the expedition informed authorities via a satellite phone.
The porters all belong to Shigar and are associated with the tourism industry, the official said.
Other sources said that as many as six porters are missing. However, this could not be confirmed.
An official in Skardu said that the services of Hasan Sadpara, a climber who recently conquered Everest, could be sought for rescuing stranded porters.
Gilgit-Baltistan, home to some of the world’s highest peaks, has previously seen many climbers and porters lose their lives in mountaineering expeditions.
Besides K2, the Nanga Parbat at 25,499 feet is also known as the ‘Killer Mountain’: it is one of the “eight deadliest eight-thousanders”.
This week, a Japanese mountaineer who had ascended a peak in Minapin Nagar, died during an expedition when he fell in a crevice. His body has not yet been recovered.
Last year, at least three foreign climbers lost their lives while attempting to scale various dangerous peaks in Gilgit-Baltistan.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 18th, 2011.
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