LUCKNOW - At least four people have died and several others are still missing in the Indian Himalayas after a group of 41 mountaineers was hit by an avalanche on Tuesday, a statement from a mountaineering institute in northern India said.

The group, consisting of 34 mountaineering trainees and seven instructors, was caught under the avalanche at 0845 local time, according to the statement.

Four bodies have been recovered while officials from the state and national disaster response forces and the Indian Air Force scour the area, the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering, a mountaineering school under the Ministry Of Defence, said in a statement.

"The Indian Air Force is doing an aerial recce of the mountain where this happened. It is not easy to reach the spot," Uttarakhand police chief Ashok Kumar told Reuters by phone.

The trainees, preparing for high altitude navigation, were returning from Draupadi ka Danda-II mountain peak at 5670 metres in the northern state of Uttarakhand.

(Writing by Devjyot Ghoshal and Tanvi Mehta; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel, Alexandra Hudson)