Mountaineer Samina Baig airlifted to Skardu hospital from K2 base camp after falling ill

Mountaineer Samina Baig, who was evacuated and initially treated at a hospital in Skardu, has been transferred to Islamabad due to worsening health conditions during her K2 expedition.

Baig, known for being the first Pakistani woman to summit both Mount Everest and K2, was leading an international expedition of Pakistani and Italian climbers. The mission was cut short on July 5 due to her severe health issues, according to the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).

Initially, an army aviation flight was unable to airlift Baig because of bad weather. She was transferred to Skardu city via road. Baig was treated by a team of Pakistan Army doctors at CMH Skardu.

Baig’s brother, Mehboob Ali, explained that she developed severe breathing problems while acclimatising at the base camp. Italian doctors in the team treated her, but her condition worsened. Her evacuation was delayed for three days due to poor weather.

As Baig’s condition rapidly declined, the team decided to evacuate her using human assistance and a horse. She was provided bottled oxygen to aid her breathing. The team, led by Agostino Da Polenza and Baig, began their journey from the base camp on June 28.

They trekked day and night to reach Concordia on July 6 and expected to arrive at Payu by July 7.

“Usually it takes one week to reach Skardu,” Ali said, emphasizing the urgency to get Baig medical attention as quickly as possible.

Pakistan, home to five of the world’s 14 mountains over 8,000 meters, including K2 and Nanga Parbat, attracts climbers worldwide. In 2023, more than 8,900 foreigners visited the remote Gilgit-Baltistan region during the climbing season from early June to late August.

In June, Pakistan’s army also rescued Estonian climber Saama Marie, who injured her leg while attempting Nanga Parbat. These incidents highlight the dangers of mountaineering in the region and the critical role of rescue operations.

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