Army recovers body of one of 10 soldiers from Siachen

A defence spokesman said the army would continue its rescue operations till all bodies are found.

Srinagar: Army rescuers including specialist high altitude teams on Monday retrieved the frozen body of one soldier after excavating a new site in their search for ten jawans buried by a deadly avalanche that swept through their post in Siachen glacier area at a height of 19,600 feet in eastern Ladakh last week.

“After intense and exhausting search operations, which entered its sixth day, rescue parties have hit the camp site and recovered the mortal remains of one martyr,” said defence spokesman Colonel S.D. Goswami.

On February 3, a huge wall of frost and snow had crashed into the remote Siachen Glacier, smothering a vast area which also had an Army camp located on it in the southern side of the area. The post was being manned by a Junior Commissioned Office (JCO) and nine soldiers when the incident occurred. Among the victims four are from Tamil Nadu, three including the JCO from Karnataka and one each from Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Maharashtra.

Rescue operations in Siachen for bodies of soldiers buried after an avalanche last week Rescue operations in Siachen for bodies of soldiers buried after an avalanche last week

In some such cases avalanche victims are not located until spring thaw melts the snow. However, the joint effort by Army and Indian Air Force (IAF) rescuers with specialised equipment and sniffer dogs have been able to locate and pull the body of one of the soldiers from the thick layers of frost and snow.

Col. Goswami said that a new camp has been set up at the location to coordinate the rescue efforts as well as to continue vigil in the sensitive area. “Rescue teams are cutting through up to thirty feet of ice at multiple locations where our soldiers could be buried,” he said adding that probable locations are identified by using specialised equipment which was inducted along with the rescue teams.

Reports from Siachen said the rescuers’ efforts are being hampered by frequent snow blizzards, extreme freezing temperatures and low visibility apart from the effects of rarefied atmosphere in such high altitude. The teams are working round the clock and observing all precautions since the unstable ice and snow in the region could trigger fresh avalanches, reports said. Army said rescue efforts will continue till all the bodies are retrieved.

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.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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