Four British climbers rescued from avalanche-hit Nanda Devi in Uttarakhand

Mountaineer Ruth McCance from Sydney is missing in the Himalayas

Mountaineer Ruth McCance from Sydney is missing 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.

"Vijay Kumar Jogdande, a civil administrator in northern India's Uttarakhand state, said rescuers would be advised by four other team members who stayed back at the second base camp and were brought down yesterday".

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.

Two helicopters are searching the mountains for the missing group, made up of four Britons, two Americans, an Australian and an Indian.

Jogdande says four British climbers rescued from base camp on Sunday received first aid at a hospital and were released.

"We are working on the assumption, and with the sense of urgency, that they are still alive", said Tripti Bhatt, an official of the Uttarakhand State Disaster Response Force, though other officials said on Sunday the group's chances of survival were remote.

Ruth McCance, a corporate leadership coach from Sydney, is missing with seven other climbers - four from Britain, two from the United States, and one from India. Contact was lost after an avalanche. "There is always a fear that people going for the rescue may get stuck there".

He said that reports from the four other team members, who had gone out to look for the missing climbers, suggested there was evidence of a very large avalanche.

CNN on Monday evening Australian time said a helicopter crew had spotted a backpack in the snow on the unnamed peak the eight climbers had been hoping to ascend.

The missing group was being led by experienced British mountain guide Martin Moran, whose Scotland-based company Moran Mountain has run numerous expeditions in the Indian Himalayas.

Martin Moran had scaled the peak twice in the past, he said.

Family friend Peter Lowndes earlier said Ms McCance's husband, Trent Goldsack, had been taking the news of her disappearance "very hard", particularly due to initial delays in communication. Hundreds of climbers from across the world visit India to scale mountains located across the Himalayan belt, but the twin peaks of Nanda Devi are the toughest to scale. The trip was expected to take about 24 days.

Along with its air force, India has deployed elite paramilitary units to help with the search.

Nanda Devi and its sister mountain, Nanda Devi East, are among the world's most challenging peaks and only a handful of people have climbed them.

Goldsack told Guardian Australia his wife - who he married in 2006 after meeting about 20 years ago - resumed climbing because "she realised how important a part of her being it was".

The team left their base camp on May 13. "It is likely that the three remaining bodies would be in the same area", he said.

The group was attempting to summit an unclimbed peak on Nanda Devi East in India.

The Nanda Devi mountain was believed to have been hit by multiple avalanches.

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