Tom Ballard: Search for missing climbers resumes

Tom Ballard and Daniele Nardi Image copyright Daniele Nardi
Image caption Tom Ballard and Daniele Nardi before their last contact with their team

A search for two climbers missing on a mountain in Pakistan has resumed.

Briton Tom Ballard and Italian Daniele Nardi last made contact from Nanga Parbat last month after sighting avalanche traces.

A team of highly experienced Spanish and Pakistani mountaineers are re-tracing the route. The climbers hope to make it to Camp Three, at an altitude of almost 19,700ft (6,000m).

On Monday, a helicopter flew to 23,000ft (7,000m) but nothing was seen.

The route Mr Ballard, originally from Belper in Derbyshire, and Mr Nardi were attempting on the world's ninth highest peak - dubbed "Killer Mountain" - is known as the Mummery Spur.

Tensions between Pakistan and India and poor flying weather delayed rescues efforts over the weekend but visibility improved on Monday.

Karrar Haidri, secretary of the Alpine Club of Pakistan, said there is still hope as in some instances in the past, missing climbers were "miraculously rescued" after a long time.

Italian Ambassador Stefano Pontecorvo tweeted the team planned to search Camp Three area with the help of drones.

He said two Pakistani mountaineers were with the missing pair but had decided to turn back because they thought it was too dangerous.

About 135,000 euros (£116,000) has been raised to fund the helicopter search team, which is said to cost about 50,000 euros (£43,000) a day.

Analysis: By BBC World Affairs reporter Richard Galpin

The rescue team led by the Spanish climber Alex Txikon set off early this morning from Camp One.

If they make it to Camp Three, they will search the area by foot and use drones.

The weather's good, but comparatively warm, which makes the risk of avalanches even greater.

Although the chances of finding them alive are very small, there's still a glimmer of hope.

The two highly respected climbers had been attempting a particularly tough route on Nanga Parbat in winter.

Mr Ballard is the son of Alison Hargreaves, who died descending from the summit of K2 in 1995 - the same year she became the first woman to conquer Everest unaided.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Tom Ballard's mother Alison Hargreaves on her descent from the top of Mount Everest, which she reached in 1995

A search for Mr Ballard, who moved to Scotland in 1995, and Mr Nardi began on Thursday after delays due to airspace restrictions.

A three-person tent "invaded by snow" was spotted on the same day.

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