Everest climber Chhanda Gayen still missing, search operations continue unabated
Kolkata, May 24 (IANS): Nepal authorities continued search operations Saturday even as Everester Chhanda Gayen and two of her Sherpas, who were caught in an avalanche on Kanchenjunga, remained untraceable, a West Bengal minister said.
"With weather being fine, the search operations are on in full swing both at the air and ground levels. A helicopter has made several sorties but unfortunately the search teams are yet to locate them," Youth Affairs Minister Aroop Biswas said.
Biswas said the state government was awaiting clearance by the ministry of external affairs (MEA) for Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who has expressed her keenness to head to Nepal to monitor the search and rescue operations.
The Bengal government earlier dispatched a three-member team to Nepal to assist the rescue mission. It has been coordinating with the MEA as well as Himalayan Mountaineering Institute officials.
Gayen - the second civilian woman from Bengal to scale Mount Everest - along with two of her Sherpas- Dawa Wangchu and Mingma Temba, went missing Tuesday after being caught in an avalanche while scaling the western side of Kangchenjunga (at 8,505 metres), the world's third highest mountain peak near the Nepal-India-China triangle.
While Banerjee has already visited Gayen's family, governor M. K. Narayanan during the day called up the mountaineer's anxious family members.
Meanwhile, Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) chief Bimal Gurung appealed to the state government to provide a job and Rs.25 lakh as financial assistance to the family of Wangchu.
"Without the help of the Sherpa community, it would be nearly impossible for climbers to scale a mountain. The Bengal government should also give equal importance to rescue Dawa Wangchu Sherpa from Darjeeling.
"I would also appeal to the government that they should give a government job to Dawa Wangchu Sherpa's wife or anyone from his family and a financial assistance of Rs.25 lakh," said Gurung.