The two Americans among the team of eight mountain climbers lost in the Himalayas were identified on Sunday — as local officials revealed there was little chance of finding the group alive.
A search-and-rescue effort that began Saturday has so far been unsuccessful in locating the team, which includes 63-year-old Anthony Sudekum from Missouri and Ronald Beimel, 34, of Los Angeles.
Sudekum is a father of four and a hand surgeon based in O’Fallon, Mo., according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
The group was on a mission to reach an untouched 21,250-foot summit in the heart of the Nanda Devi sanctuary when an avalanche is believed to have caught them, according to officials.
“Chances of survival are bleak,” said Vijay Kumar Jogdande, the top civil servant in the Pithoragarh district of the Indian state Uttarakhand.
Authorities were alerted by other climbers when the group — which also includes four people from Britain and one each from Australia and India — didn’t make it back to base camp on Friday as planned.
A team of up to 15 rescuers has been deployed to track down any survivors, officials said. Two aerial reconnaissance missions, including one conducted with a pair of Indian air force helicopters, were unsuccessful.
It will take rescuers at least three days of walking to get to the site of the avalanche.
“The route is extremely dangerous and risky,” Jogdande said.
Another aerial survey will be conducted Monday — and the on-foot rescue mission will proceed only if “any evidence is found” that the climbers survived, he said.
The casualty rate in the region of India’s second-highest peak is almost five times higher than on Mount Everest.
With Post wires