Monday, April 9, 2012
Heavy Snowfall Hinders Search For Buried Pakistani Soldiers At Siachin
Heavy snowfall on Monday hampered efforts to boost the search for 135 people buried in an avalanche in the Gayari sector. The US team of high altitude specialists arrived in the country to help but could not reach the site of the avalanche due to the bad weather.
Rescue efforts will be further hampered as the Meteorological Department has predicting more snow for the next few days.
According to the ISPR, an expert team comprising of 3 Swiss individuals and a 6 member disaster management team with necessary equipment from Germany will arrive in Islamabad on Monday night.
At least 240 Pakistani troops and civilians worked at the site of the disaster at the entrance to the Siachen Glacier with the aid of sniffer dogs and heavy machinery, said the army. But they struggled to dig through some 25 meters (80 feet) of snow spread over an area of about one kilometer.
Pakistani Army Spokesman Major General Athar Abbas said Sunday evening that it was unclear whether any of the people who were buried are still alive. At least 124 soldiers from the 6th Northern Light Infantry Battalion and 11 civilian contractors are missing.
Pakistani Army Chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani visited the site Sunday to supervise rescue operations.
Earlier, the US administration had announced they were sending a team of eight experts to Islamabad to provide technical assistance, said the Pakistani army. Pakistan will consult with the team to determine what help is needed to expedite the rescue operation.
Thousands of soldiers from India and Pakistan stationed in Siachen brave viciously cold temperatures, altitude sickness, high winds and isolation for months at a time. Troops have been posted at elevations of up to 6,700 meters (22,000 feet) and have skirmished intermittently since 1984, though the area has been quiet since a cease-fire in 2003.
The glacier is known as the world's highest battlefield.
Major General Abbas said the headquarters which was buried was located in an area previously believed to be safe. At an altitude of around 4,500 meters (15,000 feet), it is the main gateway through which troops and supplies pass on their way to more remote outposts.
More soldiers have died from the weather than combat on the glacier, which was uninhabited before troops moved there.