Indian officials are working on a plan to retrieve five bodies spotted during the hunt for eight mountain climbers missing in the Himalayas.
The group – thought to be four Britons, two Americans, one Australian and an Indian liaison officer – disappeared on Sunday May 26 in the Nanda Devi region of the Himalayas after an avalanche.
One of the group, Rupert Whewell, is originally from the Aberfeldy area.
Led by British mountain guide Martin Moran, the team was trying to reach the top of an unclimbed peak in a remote area. Four other British members of the expedition have been rescued.
Mr Whewell’s sister, Lucy Anson, said the wait for news is “devastating” but praised rescuers’ efforts. She said her brother is an experienced climber on the “trip of a lifetime” to mark his 50th birthday.
District magistrate Dr Vijay Kumar Jogdande said the bodies spotted on Monday are thought to be from the missing expedition and are presumed dead. The search for the remaining three climbers was suspended due to poor weather.
Dr Jogdande also said state officials have devised a plan to use helicopters and a ground team to retrieve the bodies and search for the others.
However, this needs approval from the Indian government in New Delhi due to the difficult terrain and risk of another avalanche.
Maninder Kohli, a mountaineer who runs a trekking company from New Delhi, said the snow level in the Indian Himalayas this year has been “abnormally high”.
Mr Moran has been a mountain guide since 1985 and set up his company – Moran Mountain, based in Strathcarron in the Scottish Highlands – with his wife Joy, while their grown-up children Hazel and Alex also work for the business.
Academic Richard Payne, from the University of York, is believed to be among the missing climbers.
The rescued group, who had stayed back at the second base camp, were brought down on Sunday. They are Mark Thomas, 44, Zachary Quain, 32, Kate Armstone, 39, and Ian Wade, 45.
A spokeswoman for the Foreign Office said: “We are in contact with the Indian authorities.
“We will do all we can to assist any British people who need our help.”