Italian envoy confirms deaths of 2 climbers in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Two European mountain climbers who went missing on the Pakistani mountain Nanga Parbat, the world's ninth-tallest, were confirmed dead Saturday by Italy's ambassador to Pakistan.

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Ambassador Stefano Pontecorvo tweeted that the search for Italian Daniele Nardi and Briton Tom Ballard ended after a team confirmed that silhouettes spotted at a height of about 5,900 meters (19,356 feet) were the bodies of the two climbers missing since Feb 24.

Karrar Haidri, secretary of the Pakistan Alpine Club, said Pakistani authorities had done all they could to find the climbers. Pakistan dispatched helicopters carrying four rescuers led by Spanish mountaineer Alex Txikon, despite the closure of its airspace amid tensions with neighboring India over the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir. He said foul weather hindered their efforts.

Txikon and his team spotted two silhouettes near where the missing climbers were last seen. The Italian ambassador shared telescopic pictures taken by Txikon, who concluded the silhouettes were the bodies of the men, who went missing in bad weather.

Haidri said that due to the altitude and the difficult conditions on the mountain, it would not be possible to bring the bodies down.

"We are stricken by grief in reporting that the search effort for Daniele and Tom is over," Nardi's staff said in a note of condolence on Nardi's Facebook page." ''The pain is great; confronted with objective facts, and after having done everything possible to find them, we have to accept what happened."

Nardi, 42, from near Rome, had attempted to scale Nanga Parbat in winter several times. Ballard's disappearance on the mountain with a peak of 8,126 meters (26,660 feet) hit his homeland particularly hard because he is the son of Alison Hargreaves, the first woman to scale Mount Everest alone. She died at age 33 descending the summit of K2.

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Associated Press writer Nicole Winfield in Rome contributed to this report.