A GROUP of eight climbers, including four Brits, were trying to reach the summit of a Himalayan mountain when an avalanche hit.

A search of Nanda Devi is ongoing but hopes of finding anyone alive are fading.

How many climbers are still missing?

A group of eight climbers – including four Brits – failed to return to their base camp on May 31 after trying to reach the summit of the previously unclimbed Nanda Devi.

Local media has named the missing Brits as group leader Martin Moran, along with John McLaren, Rupert Whewell and Richard Payne.

An Australian woman, Ruth McCance, US nationals Anthony Sudekum and Ronald Beimel and their Indian guide Chetan Pandey are also missing.

Some of the climbers in the group who had turned back earlier from the trek alerted the authorities on Friday night.

It is understood the group had left their base camp on May 13.

The group last posted an update on social media on May 22, writing: "The Nanda Devi team has reached their second base camp at 4870m, their home for the next week.

"After a recce of the route they will be making a summit attempt on an unclimbed peak at 6477m. In the words of Royal Robbins 'A first ascent is a creation in the same sense as is a painting or a song'.

"We wish them all the very best of luck and an incredible climb!"

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

How long has the search gone on?

Two air force helicopters and a rescue team have been searching ever since for the climbers, who were attempting to reach the 7,434 metre-high summit of Nanda Devi, India's second highest mountain.

An operation to find the other three mountaineers will resume on Tuesday.

A district official, Vijay Jogdande, has told Australia’s ABC: “Today an aerial survey team sighted five dead bodies.

"The search helicopter is back now. We can only lift the dead bodies after a technical assessment and advice."

But he has said the "chances of survival are bleak" of finding anyone alive.

Government officials are now working out how best to get the bodies off the mountain.

"There is always a fear that people going for the rescue may get stuck there," Jogdande said.

Mountaineers reported the "heavy" avalanche on the route the group had intended on taking.

Where is the mountain?

Nanda Devi is India’s second highest peak at 25,643ft and the 23rd highest peak in the world.

Nanda Devi means “Bliss-Giving Goddess”.

The surrounding Nanda Devi National Park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988.

It’s located in the northern Himalayan state of Uttarakhand.

Kangchenjunga is higher and is located on the border of India and Nepal.

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