News

    Search Continues for Victims of Kashmir Avalanche

    Pakistani soldiers use heavy machinery to dig through the snow at the site of an avalanche and landslide that struck a Pakistani army battalion headquarters, at the Siachen Glacier in Kashmir, April 18, 2012.
    Pakistani soldiers use heavy machinery to dig through the snow at the site of an avalanche and landslide that struck a Pakistani army battalion headquarters, at the Siachen Glacier in Kashmir, April 18, 2012.
    Ayaz Gul

    In the early morning hours of April 7, a huge avalanche and landslide struck a Pakistani army battalion headquarters located high in the mountains of Kashmir. Rescuers are still searching for survivors beneath rubble that spans one-square-kilometer at the Siachen glacier, in a region long known as a flashpoint between India and Pakistan.

    Pakistani soldiers continue to dig, inch-by-inch, in search of 140 colleagues buried under this massive pile of rock.  

    Rescuers using sniffer dogs and life-detection equipment have braved blizzard-like conditions and threats of fresh avalanches to search through the rubble and snow.

    But two weeks after the calamity flattened the Gayari rear base, no victims have been found. Rescuers have not even located evidence of the buried military complex.

    Daunting rescue effort continues

    Regional army commander Brigadier Saqib Mehmood Malik is supervising the rescue effort.

    “The mass of snow and ice and rocks that you see here, this is 200 to 250 feet [61-76 meters] above the ground level. So therefore, this effort is of a very, very large magnitude,” said Malik.

    Located at an altitude of 4,000 meters, the disaster zone is just a few kilometers away from the Indian outposts on the disputed Siachen Glacier.

    Despite the harsh conditions, Malik refuses to give up the search for the victims.

    “So, being a Muslim I believe that I have hope and I will not let it die, I will not let it die,” he said.

    Colonel Saeed Iqbal, a former commander of the flattened Pakistani military base, says the incident has saddened him.

    “Here we used to play cricket and very proudly we used to say that this is the world highest cricket ground. And you can see those flags, my office was there and living was there, our mess was there,” said Iqbal.

    Calls to demilitarize Siachen Glacier

    The latest human tragedy on the world’s highest battleground has once again revived calls for demilitarization of the Siachen Glacier, where Pakistan and India together have suffered less than 1,000 casualties, but extreme weather conditions have caused more than 7,000 deaths.

    The human tragedy in the glacial region has revived calls for Pakistan and India to end what many critics describe as a “senseless” conflict over the 78-kilometer long Siachen Glacier.

    The standoff began in 1984 when Indian troops occupied positions on the northern tip of the “Line of Control” dividing Kashmir. Pakistan responded by establishing posts on Siachen.

    Since then, the 28-year-old conflict has cost billions of dollars and killed more than 8,000 soldiers on both sides, giving it the reputation as the world’s highest, coldest and most expensive battlefield.

    Resistance to end costly conflict

    Army spokesman Major-General Athar Abbas said despite the financial and human losses, Pakistan will not unilaterally pull out forces from the disputed glacier.   

    “Yes, of course, the loss of life is right in front of everyone on both sides, and our position is that we must go back to the 1984 position and then determine what should be the actual line of deployment, but not before that. This is just an actual ground position line which is because these forces are eyeball-to-eyeball,” said Abbas.

    While the digging continues for victims, there is hope that the tragedy could push the two sides toward resolving a conflict that many say is the easiest of all the disputes plaguing India and Pakistan.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.