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Search called off for 3 missing climbers on New Zealand's Mt. Cook

December, 2003 - FILE photo of Mt. Cook, New Zealand.

December, 2003 - FILE photo of Mt. Cook, New Zealand.  (AP)

The families of three missing climbers who disappeared on New Zealand’s Mount Cook a week ago are upset that rescuers have called off a search for the men.  

Days of aerial searches over the mountain did not reveal any clues to the whereabouts of the climbers, who are now presumed dead, the BBC reported.

Dr. Michael Bishop, 53, of Sydney, Yohann Viellehner, 58, from Germany, and his son Raphael, 27, were last seen in the early hours of last Monday.

The rescue operation began when the men didn’t return to their hut Monday. Police said they were roped together when they left for the summit.

The families of the victims were discouraged to hear the search had ended, but understood the decision, New Zealand police spokesman Brent Swanson said in a statement.

"The search team is obviously disappointed with the result and our thoughts are with the families in Australia and Germany," the statement read.

Swanson encouraged climbers and pilots in the area to continue looking for any signs of the climbers.

Mt. Cook, in the South Island, is New Zealand's tallest peak at more than 12,200 feet. It draws climbers from around the world because of its spectacular scenery and the skills required to reach its summit.

More than 230 people have died on the mountain since it was first climbed in 1894.