Ten soldiers have been buried under snow after their camp in the northern part of the Siachen glacier was hit by a major avalanche on Wednesday.
According to preliminary information, the avalanche struck the camp located in the northern Siachen Glacier, at a height of 19,600 feet, in the early hours of Wednesday. “The post was manned by a Junior Commissioned Officer and nine soldiers,” a senior Army officer said.
Rescue operations by specialised teams of the Army and the Air Force are under way, and are being coordinated from Leh and Udhampur.
The incident highlights the extreme risks that soldiers face in manning the inhospitable terrain at heights of 21,000 feet under extreme weather conditions on the world’s highest battlefield.
Over the years, India has invested heavily in procuring high-quality equipment. The Army has streamlined procedures for better acclimatisation, and this has helped to cut casualties. However, all that is no guarantee against the avalanche of the sort that hit the camp on Wednesday.
On an average, India spends Rs. 5 crore a day for maintaining troops on the glacier.
More soldiers have been killed in the Siachen glacier owing to weather than by enemy fire over the years. Over 870 soldiers have lost their lives due to climatic conditions and environmental factors since the Army launched Operation Meghdoot in 1984, pre-empting Pakistan’s attempt to occupy the strategic heights.
The guns fell silent after India and Pakistan declared a ceasefire along the Line of Control Actual Ground Position Line in November 2003.