New Delhi, February 09: An Indian soldier who was buried after an avalanche struck the Siachen glacier in Indian-administered Kashmir six days ago has been found alive, military officials have said. The Army had earlier hinted that all the soldiers might be dead saying that “chances of finding any survivors are very remote” as temperatures range from a minimum of minus 42 degrees during night to maximum of minus 25 degrees during the day in the glaciated area.
Lance Naik Hanamanthappa was one of ten Indian soldiers feared to have died in the disaster on the Siachen Glacier in the remote Himalayas, close to the Line of Control border between India and Pakistan. He had reportedly been buried under eight metres of snow and was pulled out alive days after the Indian army said there was little chance of finding any survivors.
"In the ongoing rescue operation at Siachen, of the ten soldiers buried ... has been found alive," General D.S. Hooda from the army's northern command said in a statement on Monday AFP reported. "All other soldiers are regrettably no longer with us," he added.
He said that the soldier was in critical condition and officials would try to evacuate him from the mountain on Tuesday morning. An army spokesman told AFP Hanamanthappa would be moved to their hospital in New Delhi. "We hope the miracle continues. Pray with us," the statement said. The soldiers had been on duty at an army post on a glacier at an altitude of 5,900 metres (19,600 feet) when it was hit by a massive avalanche early last Wednesday.
Indian troops patrol the Siachen Glacier, dubbed the world’s highest battlefield, in the Kashmir region, which is disputed between India and Pakistan. Avalanches and landslides are common in the area during winter and temperatures can drop as low as minus 60 degrees Celsius (minus 76 degrees Fahrenheit).
An estimated 8,000 troops have died on the glacier since 1984, almost all of them from avalanches, landslides, frostbite, altitude sickness or heart failure rather than combat. Nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan fought over Siachen in 1987. But guns on the glacier have largely fallen silent since a peace process began in 2004.