RIGA - The search for three Latvian climbers who went missing in Georgia has been abandoned following the country's descent into war with Russia.
The three mountaineers 's 29-year-old Anatolijs Sukovs, 39-year-old Antons Kaldi and 25-year-old Andrejs Leskovs 's were reported missing after failing to return to camp as scheduled Aug. 4.
The Georgian Border Guard was forced to halt its search for the climbers Aug. 8 in order to respond to a general military mobilization amid increasing tensions in the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia (see story, page 1).
After the Border Guard abandoned the search, four experienced Latvian climbers took to the mountains to try to find the missing men.
"The support that could be received from Georgia, due to these [conflicts], is not as serious as it could be in the peaceful conditions," Viesturs Silenieks, the Latvian search coordinator in Tbilisi, told the Baltic News Service.
After the Border Guard announced that they would have to call off the search, the Latvian embassy in Georgia requested that the authorities do all they could to find the climbers.
After several days of searching, only the some of climbers' personal belongings, including a tent, sleeping bags and cameras, had been found, the Russian news agency Itar-Tass reported.
Georgian authorities reportedly suspect that the three men were trapped in an avalanche.
Though the Georgian authorities were unable to continue helping in the search, Silenieks said the war itself was not a major hindrance to the search efforts.
"The military activities do not delay the search for Latvian climbers in Georgia," he said.
The climbers had been traveling with the Traverss climbing club along with a group of 12 other mountaineers to the Svanetia region of the Caucasus. The three men, however, had decided to climb 4,700-meter Ushba Mountain on their own.
Although Ushba is not the highest mountain in the region, it is widely considered the most beautiful and difficult to climb. According to BNS, locals call the mountain "the road to nowhere" and "the horrible mountain."