The family of mountaineer Chhanda Gayen, who went missing along with two Nepalese sherpas two days ago on Kanchenjunga West mountain, continued to swing between hope and despair as rescue teams failed to trace the woman mountaineer Thursday.
West Bengal government officials said that helicopters from the Kanchenjunga base camp in Nepal couldn’t conduct any search and rescue operations due to bad weather during the day.
State youth services minister Arup Biswas said a three-member team, including two mountaineers Ujjal Roy and Devdas Nandi, have been sent to co-ordinate the rescue operation. “We are coordinating with the Nepal government through the External Affairs ministry and also with members of Himalayan Mountaineering Institute. So far we have not got any news of those missing,” Biswas said.
The state government, which earlier said it was ready to bear all expenses related to the rescue operations, is now contemplating seeking help from Indian Army to search Chhanda.
Gayen, the first civilian women from Bengal to climb Mount Everest, had annexed the 8,585-metre high Kanchenjunga Main, the third tallest peak on May 18 along with three other climbers from Kolkata —- Tusi Das, Dipankar Ghosh and Rajib Bhattacharjee.
According to reports available Tusi, Rajiv and Dipankar decided to return to the base camp after the summit, while Chhanda along with two sherpas — Dawa Wangchu and Mingma Temba — went on to climb the nearby 8,505-metre high Kanchenjuga West, also known as Yalung Kang in the local Nepalese language.
Earlier in the day, minister Biswas and Howrah MP Prasun Banerjee met Chhanda’s mother Jaya Gayen at her Howrah residence. BJP state president Rahul Sinha and senior Congress leader Pradip Bhattacharya too met the Gayen family.
Jaya, who came to know from the media that her daughter was missing, is hopeful of Chhanda’s return. “Chhanda has been through many such perilous situations and has always returned safe. I firmly believe that she will come back this time too,” she had told The Indian Express.