SIACHEN

All 10 soldiers hit by avalanche at Siachen declared dead

PTI2_4_2016_000186B Operations by specialised teams of the army and the air force are in progress to find bodies of the soldiers hit by an avalanche in Siachen on Thursday | PTI

Defence ministry says chances of finding the soldiers' bodies are 'very remote'

  • Despite adverse whether, the search operation intensified even as it entered the second day on Thursday. Specialised teams, equipped with snow cutters and other such machinery and sniffer dogs are scouring the high-altitude region.

All the 10 Indian Army soldiers, who were hit by a massive avalanche at Siachen on Wednesday, have been declared dead, with the defence ministry saying that the chances of finding their bodies “are very remote”.

“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,’’ General Officer Commanding-in-Chief Lt General D.S. Hooda was reported as saying.

Despite adverse whether, the search operation intensified even as it entered the second day on Thursday. Specialised teams, equipped with snow cutters and other such machinery and sniffer dogs are scouring the high-altitude region.

“Specialised equipment was flown in to Leh today (Thursday) morning,” an army spokesperson said.

He said that blocks of snow had fallen on the post. “To clear the same is a very difficult task,” he was quoted as saying. Snow cutters and special equipment have been put to use to clear and cut the ice blocks.

The avalanche hit the post situated at 19,600 feet in the Northern Glacier sector in the Ladakh region on Wednesday.

The missing personnel were attached to the Madras battalion stationed at the post. The Indian Army and the Indian Air Force teams are battling harsh weather conditions and difficult terrain to trace the missing soldiers.

Avalanches and landslides are common in Kashmir, which is divided between India and Pakistan and claimed by both entirely. The nations also dispute the undemarcated border through the Siachen Glacier at an altitude of nearly 19,000 feet (5,800 meters).

Thousands of Indian and Pakistani troops are stationed on the freezing Himalayan terrain, where more troops have died from the gruelling conditions than from hostile fire.

Last month, four Indian soldiers on foot patrol were killed by an avalanche in the same region. In 2012, an avalanche in the Pakistan-controlled part of the glacier killed 140 people, including 129 soldiers. The two countries have discussed ways to demilitarize the Siachen Glacier without success.

(With agency inputs)

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