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India says it plans to measure whether quake shrank Everest


The Indian government has said it plans to measure the height of Mount Everest for a second time to assess whether it changed as a result of the 2015 Nepal earthquake.

January 25, 2017: Surveyor-General Swarna Subba Rao said an expedition would be sent to the world’s highest mountain in two months.

Nepalese officials, however, told the BBC that no agreement had been reached on allowing an Indian team access.

Satellite data has indicated the quake impact reduced the height of the peak.

The most widely recognised height, 8,848m (29,028ft), came from an Indian survey 62 years ago.

Scientists have said that the height of a swathe of the Himalayas dropped by around one metre shortly after the 7.8 magnitude Nepal earthquake.

They added at the time that a ground survey and GPS or an airborne mission would be needed to determine whether the world’s highest peak had seen a change in its height by a few centimetres.

Mr Rao told the BBC that India’s central mapping agency, the Survey of India, would “work with the government of Nepal, which has agreed in principle to collaborate” with the measuring efforts.

But Ganesh Bhatta, Nepal’s survey department deputy chief, later told the BBC that there was no agreement with India, adding that Nepal was in fact planning its own survey.

A combination of GPS measurement and triangulation is required to measure the exact height of the mountain.

Mr Rao said it was still unclear whether the earthquake had affected Everest’s height.

“We don’t know what happened, there’s been no confirmed report,” he said. “Some scientists do believe it has shrunk. But there’s a school of thought it may have grown.”

He told the Press Trust of India news agency that a 30-strong team would take about a month to make its observations and another 15 days to compute and declare its data.