"The West Bengal government has been coordinating with the ministry of external affairs as well as Himalayan Mountaineering Institute officials to assist in the search and rescue effort. It had earlier dispatched a three-member team to rescue Gayen."
Kolkata, May 28 - Nine days after West Bengal's woman mountaineer Chhanda Gayen and two of her sherpas went missing in a deadly avalanche on Mt Kanchenjunga West, an expedition member Wednesday said the three fell while climbing in inclement weather despite being advised to desist.

Initial reports suggested Gayen and two high-altitude sherpas were caught in an avalanche May 19. They went missing at the height of 7,500 metres on the Kanchenjunga West, also known as Mt Yulan Kang, the world's third highest mountain peak near the Nepal-India-China triangle.

Extensive rescue operations were carried out May 24 with the help of Indian climber Nag Tashi Sherpa, who was an eyewitness to the accident and perhaps the sole survivor of the ill-fated expedition.

Tashi told a TV channel here Wednesday that despite being cautioned against the worsening weather, Gayen went on to climb up the west face. In the process, the trio suffered a fall, he said.

She was cautioned but she didn't heed any advice, he said.

The West Bengal government has been coordinating with the ministry of external affairs as well as Himalayan Mountaineering Institute officials to assist in the search and rescue effort. It had earlier dispatched a three-member team to rescue Gayen.

Though Nepal tourism ministry officials claimed that there were slim chances of the climbers surviving as it has been more than eight days since they went missing in the huge snow avalanche, the search operation will be continued till their bodies are found.


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