KUALA LUMPUR, May 24 —The search and rescue (SAR) mission to bring home the first hearing-impaired Malaysian mountaineer Muhammad Hawari Hashim to conquer Mount Everest will stop on May 28.
The Youth and Sports secretary-general Nagulendran Kangayatkarasu said that the government will not be able to appeal for an extension period to find the 33-year old climber as the highest peak in the world will be closed on May 29 due to bad weather conditions.
"We cannot extend the date, we cannot negotiate with the weather.
"We will risk putting people in danger [if we insist on extending the SAR mission]. We have to respect nature, unfortunately," he said in a press conference in Parliament here.
Nagulendran further said that now until May 28 is the best time to climb the mountain and the weather does not allow any activities on the mountain beyond that date.
He also said that the mountain will re-open for activities next year and hopes that the SAR mission will succeed in bringing back Hawari in the next four days.
"We are being very positive. We hope he is still safe somewhere. He has a hearing problem
"I don't like to speculate on the negative, I like to be positive. We have to pray together," he added.
When asked about difficulties in finding Hawari, chef de mission Tan Sri Salleh Mohd Nor said that the SAR on foot team and air surveillance via helicopter is fully reliant on eyesight due to the climber's disability.
He also said that the team of four climbers had more than four years of training before beginning the expedition and had acclimatised to the condition at the mountain.
"The team has acclimatised to the condition and what happened was out of the expectation. Me, as the chef de mission, is deeply saddened by the situation and hope that Hawari will be found," he said.
Prior to that, Nagulendran said that the government has allocated RM1.48 million for the SAR mission which started on May 20.
Two days ago, national news agency Bernama reported that the SAR operation is continuing in crevasses in addition to tracing his mobile phone.
Malaysian Mission Everest 2023 (ME2023) team manager Ayu Wanirah Naharuddin said the SAR operation is being handled by Hawari’s teammate Tiong Ling Yang (Vincent).
She said that an aerial SAR was carried out yesterday but no traces of humans were found in the climbing area or unusual trails.
ME 2023 organised by Kelab Eksplorasi Altitud, which is joined by the expedition leader and former 2016 Everest climber Azim Afif Ishak, started the mission to conquer the world’s highest peak on April 2. It is due to end on June 2 and has the support of the government.