03/06/2019 11:24 BST | Updated 03/06/2019 12:35 BST

Five Bodies Spotted In Search For Missing British Climbers In Himalayas

A total of eight people are unaccounted for.

PA Ready News UK
Five bodies have been found during a search for eight missing climbers in the Indian Himalayas 

An Indian official says air force pilots have spotted five bodies while searching for eight missing mountain climbers in the Himalayas.

It is feared the bodies are part of a group who were being led by Martin Moran, who is originally from Tyneside. They were attempting to reach the top of an unclimbed peak in a remote area.

The group is thought to include four Britons, two American climbers, one Australian and one person from India.

Officials said that four other British members of the expedition team had been rescued.

The group, who had stayed back at the second base camp near Nanda Devi, India’s second highest mountain, were brought down on Sunday.

They were given first aid at a hospital in the town of Pithoragarh and later released.

They included leader Mark Thomas, 44, along with Zachary Quain, 32, Kate Armstone, 39, and Ian Wade, 45.

Searches have been taking place in a bid to find the missing climbers after the alarm was raised on Friday morning.

Moran’s family have said it was “not entirely clear” what had happened to the group – which included another three British climbers – but said there was “clear evidence that a sizeable avalanche had occurred on the mountain”.

Moran has been a mountain guide since 1985 and set up his company, Moran Mountain, which is based in Strathcarron in the Highlands, together with his wife Joy - with the couple’s grown-up children Hazel and Alex both also working for the family business.

In a statement, the Moran family said: “We are deeply saddened by the tragic events unfolding in the Nanda Devi region of the Indian Himalayas.

“As a family, we share the same emotions that all next of kin are experiencing in not knowing the whereabouts or well-being of those closest to us.”

Academic Richard Payne, from the University of York, is believed to be among the group of missing climbers.

The university said it was “extremely concerned for his safety”, adding: “Our thoughts are with his family, friends and colleagues at this difficult time.”

The Moran family said the climbing group “had set out to attempt an unclimbed, unnamed summit, Peak 6477m, and the last contact intimated that all was well”.