Stranded Iranian climbers feared dead as search called off

Rescue teams, an army helicopter searched but did not locate them after they had called for help.

APP/afp July 22, 2013
The team is believed to have taken a different descent route resulting in them going missing. PHOTO: FACEBOOK.COM/HUNZAGUIDESPAKISTAN/FILE

ISLAMABAD: Rescuers have called of the search for three Iranian climbers who went missing in the mountains of northern Pakistan, an official said Monday, fearing that they may have died.

The Iranians had sent a distress call just after summiting the 8,051-metre (26,414-foot) Broad Peak on July 16, Manzoor Hussain, chief of the Alpine Club of Pakistan that coordinated the expedition, told AFP.

Rescue teams and an army helicopter searched but did not locate them after they had called for help and reported exhaustion and lack of food, he said, adding that the climbers made calls back home to Iran on Saturday.

"A helicopter was sent on Sunday, but unfortunately it also found no trace of the climbers and the search has been called off," Hussain told AFP.

According to ACP Secretary Abu Zafar Sadiq, the club would make anannouncement about them in two to three days. "We are still waiting for a miracle to happen for those climbers," he said.

ACP believes that the climbers were trying another route on their way back, which may be the main cause of any mishap.

Sadiq said that the three climbers were presumed to be dead as no news had been heard about them. "The rescue teams or the helicopter failed to locate them, therefore we believe the climbers are dead."

Pakistan is home to five of the world's 14 peaks over 8,000 metres, including the world's second-highest mountain, K2, but conditions are harsh and deaths not uncommon.

This has been one of the deadliest season for climbers in Pakistan with at least 13 killed.

Last month Pakistan suspended expeditions to its second-highest peak Nanga Parbat after militants shot dead nine foreign climbers.  Last week, a German climber went missing during an expedition and her body was later recovered.