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Thursday, January 1, 2015

Three people lost on Mount Cook, New Zealand

Mt Cook

Police believe that three climbers missing on Mount Cook are now deceased and aerial searches over the next few days will be looking for their bodies.

Australian doctor Michael Bishop 53, German climber Johann Viellehner 58 and his son Raphael 27, set out to climb Mount Cook, New Zealand's highest mountain and were last seen roped together as they climbed towards the summit on Monday morning. But today is Thursday and hope is fading.

Dr Bishop

"The men were very lightly clad and weren't really prepared for the conditions" a police spokesman said.  There are no shelter huts in the area and they did not carry an emergency beacon.

An aerial search was started on Wednesday morning but was called off due to bad weather.  Relatives and friends are praying the men have dug themselves into a snow shelter and are still alive.

The two older men were described as experienced mountaineers and Dr Bishop had previously climbed in the Mount Cook area.

Mount Cook, also known by the Maori name of Aoraki, is a popular challenge for mountaineers around the world but it has claimed the lives of 200 people since it was first conquered in 1894.

Dr Michael Bishop has been a medical professional for 27 years. Born and raised in Victoria, he moved to Sydney in 1999 with his wife to attend bible college.  He established the Ascent to Life outreach program in 2011 followed by a church at Doonside, near Blacktown in Sydney's western suburbs.

Dr Bishop and his wife have been running a medical ministry as well as a church planting program in the slums of India and plan to expand into the Pacific Islands.

Today, the Ascent to Life Facebook page is calling for prayers. "Thank God the weather has been good this morning, a helicopter search went out at 6am New Zealand time."

"Please keep on praying for a successful search mission - both ground and aerial - today."