Rescue operations in the Gyari sector of the Siachen glacier did not yield any results for the second day on Sunday, forcing Pakistan to begin reconciling to the hard fact that it may have lost 124 of its soldiers in the avalanche that wiped out the battalion headquarters of 6 Northern Light Infantry at 14,000 ft above sea level on Saturday morning.
By Sunday evening – about 36 hours after the avalanche struck the battalion – not a single person or body was found from under the 70-feet high snow. Though officially the search continued, there was a growing acceptance of the inevitable. Besides 124 soldiers – which included three officers – 11 civilians are also trapped under the snow in a terrain where survival is in any case difficult because of the inclement weather.
The Inter Services Public Relations released the names of all those trapped under the snow.
The snow slide was about one km long and wide.
Rescue operations have been slow because heavy machinery to displace the heap of snow had to be airlifted from Rawalpindi. Add to this the high altitude and bad weather conditions.
Chief of Army Staff Ashfaq Parvez Kayani visited Siachen on Sunday to oversee recue operations. Asking officers to ensure that the morale of the troops was not affected by the accident, he said efforts were on to acquire the latest technical equipment for the rescue. Meanwhile, the U.S. has offered Pakistan assistance in the search, rescue and recovery operations.
The battalion was situated in a valley between two high mountains. The valley served as the gateway for troops and supplies headed for remote posts on the glacier, according to the Dawn newspaper. The area where the battalion was headquartered was considered a safe place.