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Hope Wanes In India Search For Minnesota Student

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(credit: Victoria Brenner)

(credit: Victoria Brenner)

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LUCKNOW, India (AP) — Police and rescue workers searched Thursday for a 20-year-old student from Minnesota who fell hundreds of feet into a river while trekking in northern India, although hopes waned of finding the young man alive.

Thomas Plotkin of Minnetonka, Minn., has been missing since Sept. 22, when fellow hikers said he twisted his ankle and tumbled from a 490-foot ridge into the Gori River, known for its violent rapids and strong whirlpools.

Plotkin was part of a group trekking the 37-mile Johar trail, which meanders along the Gori in the Himalayan foothills in Uttarakhand state. He came to India for a semester with the Wyoming-based National Outdoor Leadership Program. He is a student at the University of Iowa.

“The search operation will continue for a few more days, but with every passing day, hopes to find him alive are diminishing,” local magistrate J.S. Rathore said Thursday.

The outdoor leadership program said in a statement that it “regretfully has to presume Thomas has not survived.”

The rescue team found Plotkin’s tattered bag entangled in a tree branch Tuesday about a mile downstream from where he fell. Other belongings, including a rain coat and a head lamp, were strewn about.

Rathore said rescuers had traced the trail three times and “looked into every cave and crevice where a person can find shelter.”

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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