A Facebook page 'Rescue Malli Mastan Babu' launched by his supporters and well wishers had this single post on Saturday : "Mountains retained its favourite child. RIP Malli Mastan Babu."Babu was a top Indian mountaineer, having achieved the feat of becoming the "fastest seven summiteer" in the world (172 days in 2006, during which he climbed seven summits on seven days of the week in each calendar month).

He was also the first Indian to summit Mt Vinson Massif, the tallest peak in Antarctica and the first person from Andhra Pradesh to conquer the Everest.

He was an alumnus of IIT Kharagpur and IIM Kolkata. Babu left home in Nellore in Andhra Pradesh for the trip on December 16. The weather turned bad just after Babu set out on his trek up the Andes mountains.

On Thursday, external affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said that search teams from Argentina and Chile were searching the Andes mountain for Babu.

His sister Dorasanamma is in Argentina. The Facebook page 'Rescue Malli Mastan Babu' was being updated regularly with news on the latest status of the search operation in the Andes.

On Saturday, Akbaruddin tweeted: "RIP #MalliMastanBabu. With his friends and family we are working with authorities in Argentina & Chile on next steps in a difficult situation."

The post about his death has already got his admirers writing messages of tribute. One post said: "Mastan embraced South America as his own in his last four years. He learned Spanish to be able to move in South American countries and he really enjoyed the Andes and its vast set of challenges. Mastan has been the amazing unofficial brand ambassador for the South American adventure destinations especially the Andes."

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