The whereabouts of Tapi Mra, the first Everester of Arunachal Pradesh, and his associate Niku Dao, who disappeared about a month ago during an expedition to the still unclimbed Mount Khyarisattam, remain unknown. State Sports and Youth Minister Mama Natung said the two climbers could not be located by the military during its aerial search of the area.
Nine soldiers and three local climbers have now been engaged in finding ground for the two climbers. A team has already surveyed the first base camp and is on its way to the second, he said on Wednesday.
The two climbers had disappeared on August 17 after leaving with seven porters for the July 27 expedition from Sario-Saria, a village in the Sawa circle of East Kameng district.
“Even if we are unable to locate the duo, the search team will look into other aspects of their survival. Nothing will remain unexplored to ensure their safe return,” the minister told reporters after a meeting with the Deputy Commissioner of East Kameng District, PA Polumatla. at Seppa. The meeting was held to review the search and rescue operations of the famed mountaineer and his associate.
“Mra is a renowned mountain climber and the pride of our state…We are concerned about his fate and hope that the combined efforts of the district administration, the Indian army and the people will bear fruit,” said Natung.
He said Mra approached the sports department during the expedition, but was advised to avoid climbing to the summit during this time due to bad weather. The climber, however, did not inform the East Kameng district administration of his expedition to Mount Khyarisattam at 6,900 meters.
“We are not blaming anyone or making excuses for not following due process,” Natung added.
Mount Khyarisattam is considered sacred by the people of the district.
Nokhya Yakli, a porter from Yakli village who had accompanied Mra on the expedition, told the media that the Everester and his associate left from the first base camp on August 17. They were accompanied by porters Dangbing Saria and Adam Wallong to the second base camp with supplies.
Mra and Dao had however been forced to return to the second base camp after their first attempt failed and they then climbed the peak from the east side. The two had very little ration in their possession and each carried an oxygen cylinder, Yakli said.
They were in contact with the first base camp porters for the next three days through their walkie-talkies. Contact was subsequently lost.
The district administration along with army personnel and residents launched search operations for the two immediately after being informed by the porters.
Mra, who belongs to the Tagin tribe in the state, is the first person from Arunachal Pradesh to climb Mount Everest. He had climbed Everest in 2009.
The climber had climbed Imja Tse, commonly known as Island Peak in Nepal in 2007. He had also made successful expeditions to Mera Peak in Nepal, Uhuru Peak in Tanzania and Mount Kosciuszko in Australia.
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