Six teenagers are trapped in an avalanche that occurred Sunday on a remote mountain in Siberia, according to Russian officials. A search and rescue mission is currently underway in an effort to locate and recover the missing boys.
Russia’s Emergency Situations Ministry received a distress call on Sunday afternoon near the avalanche zone located approximately 60 miles north of the Mongolian border. Officials have reportedly dispatched dozens of rescue workers to comb the avalanche site for survivors.
The Associated Press reports that the distress call came from a seventh teenager who was part of the group of teenagers hiking through the mountain when the avalanche occurred. The 17-year-old was able to escape and request help for his missing friends.
According to Reuters, detailed reasons behind the teenagers’ excursion up the remote mountain have not been verified.
However, Russia’s Children’s Rights Commissioner Pavel Astakhov indicated that the teenagers were participating in a popular local superstition in which small flags are placed at the location as a type of good luck charm.
Astakhov reportedly issued the following tweet from his Twitter account:
“The tragedy happened because of the reckless venture undertaken by the boys. Now we are trying to find out where their parents are.”
The identities of the six teens trapped in the avalanche have not been disclosed publicly. Various media outlets have reported that the boys are between the ages of 14 and 17 years old.
A statement released by the Russian Interior Ministry described the hiking group, including the teenager who managed to escape, as follows:
“According to available information, seven teenagers aged 16-17 who are pupils of a local secondary school could have been trapped in the avalanche.”
Russian officials have confirmed that an extensive rescue mission, including the deployment of a search helicopter, is currently underway for the remaining six teens trapped in the avalanche zone.