Chhanda Gayen ‘dead/missing’, admits Nepal govt; family accepts fate
The search for missing mountaineer Chhanda Gayen seems to be temporarily over with the Nepal government issuing a death certificate to her brother Jyotirmoy Gayen dated 20 May. The certificate says Gayen is ‘dead/missing’, Gayen’s brother declared at the state secretariat on Friday.
The ace mountaineer’s brother left for Nepal on Tuesday to oversee rescue operations for his sister. Chhanda has been missing since she was out on the second leg of her expedition, Kanchenjunga West (Yalung Kang), the peak adjacent to the Kanchenjunga main, along with two Sherpa guides.
According to an eyewitness, Chhanda Gayen and the two sherpas accompanying her were swept away by an avalanche at around 8,000 feet.
Gayen’s brother was accompanied on the rescue mission by mountaineer Dipankar Ghosh, who was with his sister on her expedition to scale the Kanchenjunga main. Chhanda and three other mountaineers, including Ghosh scaled the third highest peak of the world on 18 May.
While three of her teammates came back to the base camp after conquering Kanchenjunga, Chhanda went on to climb the difficult Kanchenjunga West, a near vertical climb.
The brother told journalists that the state government had extended all possible cooperation to the family.
He was concerned about the fate of two Sherpas - Dawa Sherpa and Mingma Tempa. However, due to inclement weather, the rescue mission in Nepal could not progress too far. ‘The area is under 4 to five feet of snow,’ he said, while indicating that there was no point in spending lakhs on the rescue operations till the weather improved.
While Dawa Sherpa is from Darjeeling, Mingma Tempa is from Nepal. Gorkha Janmukti Morcha president Bimal Gurung has offered financial assistance and a job to a family member of Dawa Sherpa in Gorkhaland Territorial Administration. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee had also expressed her grief over the incident and extended all support to Chhanda’s family.