Islamabad: The search for a missing French paraglider entered its third day on Tuesday with more rescuers joining the mission in Pakistan’s mountainous Gilgit-Baltistan region.
Savall Xavier Alain Francois, 58, took off with two Spanish paragliders from a peak in Duikar village in the scenic Hunza region but is believed to have been blown off course. He went missing at around 4:00 pm on July 2 soon after taking the flight, said Karrar Haidri, secretary of Alpine Club of Pakistan.
The two Spanish paragliders, Jaume Duran and Oriol Fernandez Perez, who flew along with Francois landed safely at the riverside in the Ganish village of Hunza Valley but there was no trace of the French paraglider.
Home to some highest peaks
Gilgit-Baltistan police and local volunteers rushed to the scene and immediately began searching for the missing adventurist. With no sign of the French paraglider, they issued an urgent call for helicopter search and rescue to locate the missing tourist, said Hunza Deputy Commissioner Muhammad Usman.
The area where the Spanish paragliders landed is considered perilous which is why the rescuers may face difficulty in finding the missing paraglider, according to Hunza’s Superintendent of Police (SP) Zahoor Ahmed.
On Tuesday, the search and rescue operation continued with the help of an Army helicopter and local volunteers as well as mobile units of tourist police, and rescuers from 1122 Rescue service, Karrar Haidri said. The paragliders arrived in Hunza on June 30 and stayed in a local hotel, according to local media reports.
The French embassy in Islamabad is actively following the developments. “The embassy is following the case since Sunday morning and is in contact with the Pakistani authorities that are doing all the best possible to find him,” the French embassy spokesperson told Gulf News.
Pakistan’s Gilgit-Baltistan region is home to some of the highest peaks in the world and is an attractive tourist destination. Hundreds of international tourists visit the region each year for expeditions. This summer would witness record adventure tourism in the northern areas as more than 1,200 international climbers had applied for permits, according to local tourism officials.
Karrar Haidri shared that a record number of more than 400 climbers would attempt to scale K2, the second-highest peak in the world. Five of the world’s tallest mountains are in Pakistan including K2, Gasherbrum 1 and 2, Broad Peak and Nanga Parbat.