Search for two French trekkers to be stepped up

Dharamsala: The arrival of a National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) team tomorrow will give momentum to the search for two French backpackers, an official said today.

The two went missing Aug 23 in Himachal Pradesh’s Dhauladhar ranges.

“A 17-member NDRF team will begin search operation tomorrow morning. Local trekkers and police personnel will also assist them,” Deputy Commissioner C. Paulrasu told.

He said a number of trekking expeditions were carried out in the hills overlooking Triund from where Marcel Gorges and Francois Xavier Camille went missing, but there was no clue about their whereabouts.

Police said a group of 32 foreigners went trekking Aug 19. Some local trekkers and porters were also accompanying them. Their expedition was arranged by NGO Field Service Intercultural Learning.

However, the duo took a different route from Triund and went ahead while the rest returned to the base camp in Dharamsala Aug 22.

Police officials said the families of both the missing trekkers have announced a reward of Rs.100,000 each to anyone giving clues about their whereabouts.

Camille’s father and another trekker’s aunt have reached this north Indian hill town, said an official.

Earlier, the administration had sent search teams. Even an Indian Army chopper was pressed into service to recce the hills.

“All the wooded areas and water channels located on the track were thoroughly searched but we could not get any clues about their whereabouts. Now, NDRF team is coming with advance equipment,” Paulrasu added.

The police believe the two might have died in an accident as the hills beyond Triund are rugged, cold and inhospitable.

“They died either due to high-altitude sickness or slipped as the area is getting heavy showers these days,” an official said.

Another possibility could be that they were robbed and their bodies buried in the hills, he said.

– IANS

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