Srinagar: There is now no hope of finding any survivors from an avalanche, which buried ten Army jawans including a Junior Commissioner Officer at their post in Siachen glacier area at a height of 19,600 feet in eastern Ladakh on Wednesday morning.
Army has said that finding any survivors is a remote possibility now even though desperate search operations were on Thursday intensified with specialised teams of the Army and the Air Force along with sniffer dogs carving through massive chunks of frost. “Specialised equipment was flown into Leh on Thursday morning to further boost the rescue efforts,” said Udhampur-based defence spokesman Colonel S.D. Goswami. Reports from the Siachen base-camp said that a kilometer wide and 600 feet high wall of snow and ice bore down on the Army camp.
The glaciated area presents temperatures ranging from a minimum of minus 42 degrees in the night to maximum of minus 25 degrees during the day. The rescue teams are braving adverse weather and effects of rarified atmosphere to locate and rescue survivors. “However, it is with deepest of regrets that we have to state that chances of finding any survivors are now very remote,” Col. Goswami said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi extended condolences to the families of the soldiers who lost their lives in the avalanche.
Demise of soldiers in Siachen is very tragic. I salute the brave soldiers who gave their lives to the nation. Condolences to their families.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) February 4, 2016
Lt. Gen. DS Hooda, Northern Command chief, while expressing his grief on the tragic incident, said “It is a tragic event and we salute the soldiers who braved all challenges to guard our frontiers and made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty”.
Jammu and Kashmir Governor, Narendra Nath Voha, also expressed shock and grief over the tragic loss of Army personnel. He spoke to Lt. Gen. Hooda to convey his heartfelt sympathy to the bereaved families and “lauded the brave officers and men of the Indian Army who serve in the most difficult areas, brave all odds and even give away their lives for safeguarding national security.
Earlier on Thursday, the director general military operations (DGMO) of Pakistan Army called his Indian counterpart to offer assistance in the rescue operation.
The massive avalanche hit the post located in the southern side of the Siachen glacier at dawn on Wednesday. The post was being manned by the JCO and nine soldiers when the incident occurred.
The Siachen Glacier is located in the eastern Karakoram range in the Himalayas, just northeast of the point NJ9842 where the Line of Control (LoC) ends. As both India and Pakistan have claim over it, the stretch of snow is dubbed as the world’s highest battlefield. As many as 869 Indian Army personnel have lost their lives on the Siachen due to climatic conditions and environmental and other factors since the Army launched Operation Meghdoot to take the control of the strategically vital glacier in 1984 till December 2015.
In the recent such incident, four soldiers were killed by an avalanche in January this year. The worst, however, occurred in April 2012 when an entire Army location was swept in a massive avalanche in the area killing as many as 135 soldiers.
Prior to 1984, neither India nor Pakistan had any military forces in this area. In spite of avalanches and landslides claiming lives of the soldiers routinely in the area particularly during the winter when temperatures can drop as low as minus 60 degrees Celsius, the Indian military authorities maintain that the Army will stay in the region for strategic advantages.