Bad weather again delays search for missing British mountaineer

Rescuers searching for a British climber missing on the world’s ninth highest mountain have been hit by further delays.

Tom Ballard, who was born in Derbyshire but had moved to the Highlands, was reported missing on Nanga Parbat in Pakistan earlier this week with Italian Daniele Nardi.

They had been climbing the 8,126-metre (26,660ft) peak, nicknamed the Killer Mountain, and lost contact last Sunday.

A planned helicopter and drone search was called off due to adverse weather conditions on Saturday, the Italian ambassador to Pakistan tweeted.

Weather also hampered search attempts on Friday.

Stefano Pontecorvo said rescuers would try again on Sunday when the weather is expected to improve.

He said he has spoken to Basque climber Alex Txikon, who is joining the rescue mission with a three-strong team, including a doctor.

If weather permits, Mr Txikon is expected to fly drones over the area where the two climbers went missing.

Pakistani helicopter pilots were on standby from 5.30am local time on Saturday but were unable to fly due to snow, clouds and low visibility, according to an update on Mr Nardi’s Facebook page.

Earlier, Mr Pontecorvo said “Both Daniele and Tom are tough guys. We hope for a miracle… and just try our best to find them.”

Initial search plans were prevented on Thursday when Pakistan closed its air space after it shot down two Indian military planes, but two army helicopters were eventually drafted in.

Russian mountaineers on K2 offered to support the rescue mission on Friday, with flights scheduled after an agreement was reached with the Italian embassy and the Pakistani air force, but the weather was deemed too dangerous.

Mr Ballard moved to Scotland in the same year his mother, Alison Hargreaves, died on K2 when she was 33, months after becoming the first woman to conquer Everest unaided.

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