Family release picture of North Yorkshire climber missing in Himalayas as search continues

Dr Richard Payne. PIC: University of York
Dr Richard Payne. PIC: University of York

The family of a man from North Yorkshire missing in the Himalayas have released a photograph of him.

Dr Richard Payne, a lecturer and environmental scientist at the University of York, is thought to be one of the missing party.

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Dr Payne was part of a group climbing in India led by Moran Mountain, an experienced mountain adventure company which offers tours and expeditions in Scotland, Norway, the Alps and the Himalayas.

It is understood the group were attempting to reach the summit of India's second highest peak, Nanda Devi in Uttarakhand.

The search is expected to recommence today after being called off on Monday due to severe weather conditions, officials have said.

Five bodies have been spotted by Indian air force pilots.

The expedition was made up of twelve members including two British Mountain Guides, an Indian Liaison Officer and support staff.

Having split into two groups, eight of the climbers, led by Martin Moran of Moran Mountain, set off to ascend an unclimbed peak, 6447m above base camp.

The last contact was made on May 25 when Mr Moran sent a message to say all was well.

Rescue services were alerted in the early hours of Friday, May 31 when the eight climbers failed to return on time.

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A spokesperson from the University of York said: "Dr Richard Payne is a lecturer in our Department of Environment and Geography.

"He is among a group of climbers currently listed as missing in the Himalayas. Everyone at the University of York is enormously concerned by the latest reports.

"Our thoughts remain with Richard's family, friends and colleagues at this difficult time."

In a statement on Facebook, Moran Mountain said: "We are deeply saddened by the tragic events unfolding in the Nanda Devi region of the Indian Himalaya.

"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.

"We are grateful to the Indian Mountaineering Foundation who are coordinating search and rescue efforts on the ground and in the air under extremely difficult conditions in a very remote area of the Himalaya.

"We are grateful for all the support that has been offered to us and we will be sure to release any information as and when we receive it.

"In the meantime please respect the privacy that the next of kin of the climbers need as they seek solace at this harrowing time."

A spokeswoman for the Foreign Office said: "We are in contact with the Indian authorities following reports that a number of British nationals are missing in the Indian Himalayas.

"We will do all we can to assist any British people who need our help."