Hyderabad, April 4:
Indian mountaineer Malli Mastan Babu, who was missing since March 24 while climbing the mountain between Chile and Argentina, has been found dead, his friends said on Saturday.
“Mountains retained its favourite child.. R.I.P Malli Mastan Babu,” read an announcement on Facebook page ‘Rescue Malli Mastan Babu’ created by his friends and well-wishers.
The body of mountaineer, who hailed from Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh, was reportedly spotted on mountains in Chile.
The 40-year-old mountaineer left home for the trip on December 16 and began the expedition from Argentina side on March 24. He was scheduled to return to the base camp the next day but was apparently trapped in bad weather.
All efforts by the family, friends and fellow mountaineers to contact him proved futile.
Malli’s elder brother Malli Pedda Mastanaiah told IANS that the family has not received any information from either the central government or the state government. “We have learnt through his friends that he is no more,” said Mastanaiah, who is a teacher at a school in Khammam district of Telangana.
Mastanaiah, who was on his way to the home town, said they were waiting to hear from the government about when the body will be brought back.
The Indian government said on Friday that helicopter teams from Argentina and Chile were searching the Andes mountains for Malli.
A Facebook page ‘Rescue Malli Mastan Babu’ launched by his supporters and well wishers had this single post on Saturday : “Mountains retained its favourite child.. R.I.P Malli Mastan Babu.”
The Facebook page ‘Rescue Malli Mastan Babu’ was being updated regularly with news on the latest status of the search operation in the Andes.
On Saturday, ministry of external affairs spokesperson Akbaruddin tweeted: “RIP #MalliMastanBabu. With his friends & family we are working with authorities in Argentina & Chile on next steps in a difficult situation.”
The post about his death has already got his admirers writing messages of tribute.
One post said: “Mastan embraced South America as his own in his last four years. He learned Spanish to be able to move in South American countries and he really enjoyed the Andes and its vast set of challenges. Mastan has been the amazing unofficial brand ambassador for the South American adventure destinations especially the Andes.”
The top mountaineer had achieved the feat of becoming the “fastest seven summiteer” in the world (172 days in 2006, during which he climbed seven summits on seven days of the week in each calendar month).
He was also the first Indian to summit Mt Vinson Massif, the tallest peak in Antarctica and the first person from Andhra Pradesh to scale the Everest. He was an alumnus of IIT-Kharagpur, IIM-Kolkata, NIT-Jamshedpur and Sainik School Korukonda. (IANS)