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Pakistan: Search for missing climbers called off

KARACHI, Pakistan

A 12-day search and rescue mission to locate the three missing climbers at K-2, the second highest mountain in the world, was called off on Thursday, with Pakistani officials declaring them dead, a mountaineering official said.

Karrar Haidri, the secretary of Alpine Club, the country’s official mountaineering organization, told that the search mission had been abandoned following continuous hostile weather conditions and “no chances” of the trio’s survival.

Addressing a news conference in northern Gilgit-Baltistan, which hosts the K-2, the region’s tourism minister, Raja Nasir Ali Khan, along with Sajid Sadpara, the son of one of the missing climbers, Muhammad Ali Sadpara, also confirmed the development.

Sadpara, Pakistan’s iconic climber, together with John Snorri from Iceland and Juan Pablo from Chile, had gone missing on Feb. 5, while attempting to reach the 8,611-meter (28,251 feet) Korakarum-2 summit, commonly known as K-2, without supplemental oxygen to make history. They, however, lost contact with the base camp when they were only 411 meters (1,348 feet) away from the snow-capped top.

Another two foreign climbers also lost their lives during the same expedition, pushing the death toll to five, according to the Alpine Club official.

Sadpara’s son Sajid, who too was part of the ill-fated expedition, had to come down from a height of 8,200 meters (26902 feet) due to equipment issues.

Sadpara was the only Pakistani to have scaled eight peaks measuring above 8,000 meters – five in Pakistan and three in Nepal.

He had climbed 8,126-meter (26,660 feet) Nanga Parbat, also known as the “killer mountain” located in Gilgit-Baltistan without oxygen in 2016.

The daunting K-2, also known as the “savage mountain” due to its treacherous terrain, had never been scaled in the winter until last month when a 10-member Nepali team scaled the peak for the first time in history.

It is the last peak of the 8,000-meter club to have been climbed in the winter, even 41 years after the Everest, which was scaled in 1980 in the winter season.

Some 300 mountaineers have made it to the top before, but all of them took up the challenge in either the summer or spring seasons.

Even in relatively better weather conditions, 86 climbers have lost their lives while trying to scale the mountain, which towers over the Shigar district of Gilgit-Baltistan.

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