Snow-covered Nanda Devi mountain is seen from Auli town
Snow-covered Nanda Devi mountain is seen from Auli town

LUCKNOW, INDIA - Retrieving the bodies of five climbers of an international team from a notoriously dangerous Himalayan mountain isn't immediately possible because helicopters are having difficulty operating in strong turbulence, an Indian official said Saturday. 

Uttarakhand state Magistrate Vijay Jogdande also said the Indian Mountaineering Foundation could launch a ground expedition to help evacuate the bodies, which have been spotted at an altitude of 5,000 meters (16,404 feet). 

He was responding to a statement by the foundation Saturday that it was ready to launch an expedition. The foundation complained that it has been waiting for state permission for the past three days. 

Veteran British mountaineer Martin Moran led the team of four Britons, two Americans, an Australian and an Indian on the expedition on Nanda Devi East. Moran's Scotland-based company said the climbers set out May 13. Contact with a separate trekking team at base camp was lost May 26 following an avalanche. Five bodies have been spotted, but all eight missing climbers are feared dead. 

The foundation said its team of highly experienced mountaineers was standing by to move while it had a window of 15 to 20 days to complete the operation before monsoon rains arrive.