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Five bodies have been sighted in the search for eight mountaineers, including an Australian woman, lost in the Indian Himalayas following an avalanche.
Sydney mountaineer Ruth McCance went missing while attempting to summit a previously unclimbed peak on Nanda Devi East along with British team leader Martin Moran, three other UK climbers, two men from the United States and an Indian liaison officer.
High-resolution photographs taken during an aerial mission conducted on Monday morning identified the bodies, as well as a number of other personal effects of the climbers such as rucksacks, Indian Mountaineering Foundation spokesman Amit Chowdhury said.
"Now it's pretty much certain that the climbers were struck down by this avalanche," Mr Chowdhury told AAP on Monday evening.
The bodies are on the ground along with avalanche debris, at the site where footprints were seen leading into the path of an avalanche on Sunday.
"There is no movement, therefore, it's probably practical to presume that the possibilities of anyone being alive in this kind of massive avalanche is very, very weak," Mr Chowdhury.
"We were hopeful of being able to find some kind of life but now things don't look good at all," he said.
The focus will now shift to a ground search, which will come from a different path than the climbers took as the area is dangerous, Mr Chowdhury said.
Plans are being made to figure out how the bodies will be retrieved, he said.
Ms McCance's husband, Trent Goldsack, said earlier "a lot of people are saying a lot of prayers for her at the moment".
"There's always hope," Mr Goldsack told AAP on Monday afternoon.
Ms McCance didn't travel to Nanda Devi to seek thrills but rather for spiritual nourishment, Mr Goldsack said on Monday before it was reported the bodies had been spotted.
"It was not about ticking a box, it was not about wearing a t-shirt that said 'I've climbed a virgin peak' or 'I've climbed this mountain or I've climbed that'," he said.
"It was about the seeking of the wild places and enjoying and taking nourishment from that - that was the reason for her."
Mr Goldsack said he loved his wife "as much as I ever have".
Mr Moran on May 25 sent a message saying the advance team of eight were camped and preparing to ascend the summit known only as Peak 6447m, the British Association of Mountain Guides said in a statement on Monday.
When British deputy leader Mark Thomas - who had remained lower down the mountain with three others - didn't hear again from the advance team he went to search for them, BMG understands.
He found a very large avalanche had hit the route Mr Moran's team was expected to have taken.
The Moran family said they're deeply saddened by the "tragic events" and described it as a "harrowing time" for all involved.
"As a family, we share the same emotions that all next of kin are experiencing in not knowing the whereabouts or wellbeing of those closest to us," the statement, released online on Monday, says.
A rescue team of up to 20 people - including members of the Indian-Tibetan border police and the state disaster management force - left Munsiyari on foot on Saturday morning local time, Indian Mountaineering Foundation spokesman Amit Chowdhury has said.
It is expected to take them at least three days to reach the avalanche site.
© AAP 2019