‘Survival chances little, but miracles do happen’

Mamata may leave for Nepal today if MEA clears trip.

By: Express News Service | Kolkata | Updated: May 24, 2014 1:33:42 am
Mamata with Jaya Gayen, mother of Chhanda Gayen, at their residence, in Howrah on Friday. (Source: Express photo) Mamata with Jaya Gayen, mother of Chhanda Gayen, at their residence, in Howrah on Friday. (Source: Express photo)

Three days after she went missing while trying to climb Mount Kanchenjunga (West) in Nepal, the rescue teams are yet to find any trace of mountaineer Chhanda Gayen and two Sherpas accompanying her. The experts said that her chances of survival were “negligible” but added that “miracles do happen.”

Pointing out that the landscape where Chhanda went missing was most complicated, Nepal Consul General Friday told West Bengal Chief Minister that for search operations a special team has been formed.

“The search and rescue operations are on. We have put in our best efforts to rescue her. On Saturday too, there will be search and rescue operations,” the Nepal Consul General said after meeting Mamata here.

Chhanda and the two Sherpas went missing after being caught in an avalanche on Tuesday while trying to climb the 8,505-metre-high Kancehnjunga west, the second highest peak in the Kanchenjunga massif, also known as Yalung Kang.

The Himalayan Mountaineering Institute in Darjeeling has also sent their mountaineering instructor Tushar Kanti to coordinate the rescue operation from the base camp. “We are hopeful, but her chances of survival are negligible as it is very tough to survive at a height of 8000 metres for three to four days. But miracles do happen,” HMI principal Gulshan Chadha said.

A two-member rescue team comprising veteran climbers Ujjwal Roy and Devdas Nandi, sent by the state government, have reached the Kanchenjunga base camp. During the search operation, they would be accompanied by Tashi, the sherpa who was with Chhanda and three others during their climb to the Kanchenjunga Main peak last week.

Meanwhile, Mamata visited Chhanda’s residence in Howrah and assured her family members that the state government was doing its best to rescue the climber.

The mountaineer’s family members, sources said, complained to Mamata about the delay in the search operations. Her brother Jyotirmoy Gayen, talking to the reporters, said, “We want the Centre to intervene immediately and conduct the search”.
This came even as Mamata told the family that she intends to leave for Nepal on Saturday to oversee and expedite the rescue operation.

“The Chief Minister may leave for Nepal Saturday if necessary clearance from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) is received by then. She is keen on going to Nepal to expedite the rescue operation of Chhanda,” said state youth affairs minister Aroop Biswas. Biswas alongwith cabinet minister Firhad Hakim had accompanied Mamata to Chhanda’s residence.
Biswas said chief secretary Sanjoy Mitra was trying to contact MEA, but “no official could be contacted as yet.”  “The chief secretary has also contacted S Rao,  First Secretary of  Indian High Commission in Nepal, to assure that all expenses for the rescue operation will be borne by the Bengal government,” he said.

Chhanda had annexed the 8,585-metre-high Kanchenjunga Main, the third tallest peak in the world, on May 18 along with three others — Tusi Das, Dipankar Ghosh and Rajib Bhattacharjee. While others decided to return to the base camp after summiting, she along with two sherpas, Dawa Wangchu and Mingma Temba, stayed back to conquer the Yalung Kang peak.

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