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Bodies spotted as search for missing climbers suspended

The five bodies were found before the rescue operation was suspended due to heavy snowfall.

Missing: Martin Moran was climbing in the Himalayas.
Missing: Martin Moran was climbing in the Himalayas.

Indian air force pilots have spotted five bodies in the search for eight climbers missing in the Himalayas before the operation was suspended for the day.

Martin Moran, who is originally from Tyneside but now lives in the Highlands, was leading a party of eight who were attempting to reach the top of an unclimbed peak in a remote area.

Searches have been taking place in a bid to find the missing climbers after the alarm was raised on Friday morning.

District magistrate Dr Vijay Kumar Jogdande said the bodies were found before the rescue operation in the northern state of Uttarakhand was suspended because of heavy snowfall and high winds.

He added that officials are consulting the Indian army on how to retrieve the bodies before the search for the three others resumes on Tuesday.

The eight-member expedition set out to scale a 21,250ft peak and had last been in touch with base camp on May 26.

Mr Moran's family have said it was "not entirely clear" what had happened to the group - which included another three British climbers - but said there was "clear evidence that a sizeable avalanche had occurred on the mountain".

Mr Moran has been a mountain guide since 1985 and set up his company, Moran Mountain, which is based in Strathcarron in the Highlands, together with his wife Joy. The couple's grown-up children, Hazel and Alex, also work for the family business.

Academic Richard Payne, from the University of York, is believed to be among the group of missing climbers.

As well as four Britons, the group of eight is thought to include two American climbers, one Australian and one person from India.

Four other British members of the expedition team had already been rescued.

The rescued group, who had stayed back at the second base camp, were brought down on Sunday and given first aid at a hospital in the town of Pithoragarh before later being released.

They included leader Mark Thomas, 44, along with Zachary Quain, 32, Kate Armstone, 39, and Ian Wade, 45.

Authorities said they had been in touch with the missing climbers until around May 26.

A spokeswoman for the Foreign Office said: "We are in contact with the Indian authorities following reports that a number of British nationals are missing in the Indian Himalayas.

"We will do all we can to assist any British people who need our help."

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