News / Asia

    Indian Soldier Rescued After Avalanche in Serious Condition

    An Indian army soldier cuts through ice and snow in the search for survivors after a deadly avalanche on the Siachen Glacier, Feb. 8, 2016. An Indian soldier was rescued Monday, six days after being buried in the avalanche.
    An Indian army soldier cuts through ice and snow in the search for survivors after a deadly avalanche on the Siachen Glacier, Feb. 8, 2016. An Indian soldier was rescued Monday, six days after being buried in the avalanche.
    Anjana Pasricha

    An Indian soldier who was buried under 10 meters of snow for six days on the world’s highest battlefield in Indian-controlled Kashmir is now battling for survival in a hospital, officials said Tuesday.

    Hanamanthappa Koppad and nine other soldiers were buried under an avalanche that last Wednesday slammed into an army post at the Siachen Glacier at an altitude of about 5,800 meters.

    He was miraculously found alive Monday night by rescue teams searching for the missing soldiers and brought to a hospital in New Delhi where he is in a critical condition. Bodies of the nine other soldiers were recovered.

    Koppad was found under at least 7 meters (25 feet) of snow. It is extremely rare for a person to survive under snow for so long.

    Indian military commander Lt. Gen. D.S. Hooda said, “We hope the miracle continues. Pray with us.”

    Hooda told The Associated Press: "Surprisingly, his oxygen levels seemed OK, and his heartbeat was there."

    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Koppad on Tuesday after tweeting that he was bringing prayers of the entire nation.

    Avalanches and landslides are common in Kashmir, which is claimed by both India and Pakistan and divided between them, making the ongoing military patrols at the 5,800-meter-altitude (19,000-foot-altitude) glacier particularly dangerous. More Indian and Pakistani troops have died from the grueling conditions than from hostile fire.

    Previous incidents

    Last month, four Indian soldiers were killed by an avalanche while on foot patrol in the same region. In 2012, an avalanche on the Pakistan-controlled part of the glacier killed 140 people, including 129 soldiers.

    Hooda described last week's avalanche as "massive," adding that "an entire mountain of rock-solid snow" measuring about 1 square kilometer (half a square mile) "fell on the post and buried it."

    The rescue and recovery operation was also difficult "under extremely hostile weather conditions," he said.

    Enduring freezing temperatures for days, dozens of rescuers used shovels and chain saws to cut through the ice and snow to reach the buried soldiers.

    The 78-kilometer-long Siachen Glacier is located on the line of control that divides India and Pakistan in the disputed region of Kashmir and is claimed by both countries.

    Considered one of the world's most dangerous battlefields, soldiers entrenched on both sides have to contend with temperatures that can dip as low as minus-50 degrees Celsius.

    The hostile conditions alone have claimed the lives of many soldiers. Several rounds of talks between the two countries on demilitarizing the glacier have been unsuccessful.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Marcus Aurelius II from: NJ USA
    February 10, 2016 2:21 PM
    This has to be one of the stupidest battles in human history, a constant exchange of artillery over a glacier that is uninhabitable and virtually useless for any human purpose. It's a natural boundary separating these irreconcilable antagonists. Why would anyone care or even claim ownership of it?

    by: Smithy from: SA
    February 09, 2016 11:54 AM
    I wish him full recovery. Why cant India and Pakistan leave this dangerous place alone. What is the point of sacrificing solders for nothing.
    In Response

    by: Hashikesh from: INDIA
    February 11, 2016 3:21 AM
    Coz terrorist are entering our india from pakistan.. and our soldiers are trying best to save our country..

    by: Drone
    February 09, 2016 9:58 AM
    His comrades would have been safe if his country didn't send them up there to find some senseless war. Is human life that cheap?

    by: Bill Butler from: Durango, CO
    February 09, 2016 9:24 AM
    If anyone is interested in some of the locations involved, here are some coordinates that can be used to find locations via Google Earth. Highest Indian helicopter landing pad: 35.176N 77.2165E

    Terminus of the Siachen Glacier: (Left over stagnant ice under rock/earth rubble – like most glaciers, the Siachen is retreating.) 35.2N 77.2E

    Location of the Pakistan 2012 disaster where about 140 people were killed. 35.2136N 76.836E Use the Google Earth “Clock”/historical icon to see buildings (before) vs. ruble (after).

    by: Akhil
    February 09, 2016 8:48 AM
    God bless him. The elevation and cold kill a soldier everyday. From his name, this soldier is a low lander from Karnataka. Yet he is alive when all his company is gone. Hope he makes it to fight another day

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