Family members of renowned mountaineer Malli Mastan Babu, who is reported missing from the Andes Mountains have appealed to governments of Argentina and Chile to mount an aerial search operation for the climber, who did not return to a base camp four days ago.
Forty-year-old Mastan, who hails from Nellore in Andhra Pradesh, and his friends hailing from various countries were supposed to summit the 21,748 feet-high Cerro Tres Cruces Sur on the Chilean side of the Andes range. They were climbing from the Argentina side.
“I sent him a message on March 21 wishing him luck and he replied. That was our last contact with him. His last known location is Cerro Tress Cruces on the Argentinian side. It seems that as the weather was bad, he advised his fellow mountaineers to stay put at the base camp and went alone on March 23 to check out the route up. He was was supposed to return by the evening. He is missing since then. He was to return to India on March 28,’’ Dr Malli Dorsannamma, his sister, said from Tirupati on Sunday.
“We have appealed to the Government of India through Union Ministers P Ashok Gajapati Raju and Venkaiah Naidu. We have been informed that (External Affairs Minister) Sushma Swaraj has taken it up with governments of Chile and Argentina and rescue teams have been sent. We have been told that the route that Mastan took was hit by heavy rains after he left,’’ she added. “Mastan is unmarried and does not stay at any one place for more than a fortnight. He is hardly at home. Our mother lives with me in Tirupati where I work,” Dr Dorsannamma said.
She added that Mastan is always away on his expeditions and added that he has climbed most of the mountains in the seven continents. “We are desperately praying for his safe return. Two rescue teams formed by his friends Hernan Augusto and Martin Andrez have reached the base camp today and will launch a search operation shortly,’’ she said.
Mastan studied at Korukonda Sainik School, in Andhra Pradesh’s Vizianagaram and is also an alumnus of IIT-Kharagpur and IIM-Kolkata.
Many of his mountaineer friends from South America have launched individual or team search operations on their own. His friends from other parts of the world are raising funds to sustain the rescue operations. His admirers have also launched a Facebook page, Rescue Malli Mastan Babu, where the search teams’ progress is being updated.
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