This site uses cookies to improve your experience and to provide services and advertising. By continuing to browse, you agree to the use of cookies described in our Cookies Policy. You may change your settings at any time but this may impact on the functionality of the site. To learn more see our Cookies Policy.
OK
Dublin: 6 °C Sunday 17 November, 2019
Advertisement

No survivors found after 12-hour search at Pakistani avalanche

At least 117 soldiers, and potentially as many as 130, are missing after a major avalanche close to the Indian border.

File photo of Pakistani soldiers bringing suppliers up the a mountain in February. 130 soldiers are thought to have been trapped by today's avalanche.
File photo of Pakistani soldiers bringing suppliers up the a mountain in February. 130 soldiers are thought to have been trapped by today's avalanche.
Image: AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus, File

PAKISTANI SOLDIERS have yet to find any survivors, twelve hours into a dig where at least 117 of their colleagues have been buried following an avalanche.

The disaster at the entrance to the Siachen Glacier, which occurred earlier this morning, may have buried up to 130 soldiers based at a mountain battleground close to the Indian border.

“We are waiting for news and keeping our fingers crossed,” said army spokesman Major General Athar Abbas.

Hundreds of troops, sniffer dogs and mechanical equipment were at the scene, but were struggling to make much headway into the avalanche, which crashed down onto the rear headquarters building in the Gayari sector early in the morning, burying it under at least 20 metres of snow.

“It’s on a massive scale,” Abbas said. “Everything is completely covered.”

Siachen is on the northern tip of the divided Kashmir region claimed by both India and Pakistan.

The accident highlighted the risks of deploying troops to one of the most inhospitable places on earth.

Hostile battleground

The thousands of troops from both nations stationed there brave viciously cold temperatures, altitude sickness, high winds and isolation for months at a time.

Troops have been deployed 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 ceasefire in 2003. The glacier is known as the world’s highest battlefield.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani expressed his shock at the incident, which he said “would in no way would undermine the high morale of soldiers and officers.”

The headquarters in Gayari, situated around 4,572 metres above sea level, is the main gateway through which troops and supplies pass on their to other more remote outposts in the sector. It is situated in a valley between two high mountains, close to a military hospital, according to an officer who was stationed there in 2003.

“I can’t comprehend how an avalanche can reach that place,” said the officer, who didn’t give his name because he is not authorised to speak to the media. “It was supposed to be safe.”

More soldiers have died from the weather than combat on the glacier, which was uninhabited before troops moved there.

Conflict there began in 1984 when India occupied the heights of the 78-kilometre glacier, fearing Pakistan wanted to claim the territory. Pakistan also deployed its troops. Both armies remain entrenched despite the ceasefire, costing the poverty-stricken countries many millions of dollars each year.

Pakistan and India have fought three wars since the partition of the subcontinent on independence from Britain in 1947. Two of the wars have been over Kashmir, which both claim in its entirety.

- Chris Brummitt

Read: Avalanche buries 130 Pakistani soldiers – report >

  • Share on Facebook
  • Email this article
  •  

About the author:

Associated Press

Read next:

COMMENTS (1)

This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel