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Siachen survivor battles for life at Army hospital

Mahadevi, wife of Hanumanthappa Koppad (inset), celebrates the news of her husband's survival with her daughter Netravati at Betadur village in Dharwad district of Karnataka.  

Lance Naik Hanamanthappa Koppad, who >miraculously survived five days under several feet of snow in the Siachen glacier, was in a critical condition at the Army Research & Referral Hospital here on Tuesday evening.

The soldier of 19 Madras Regiment was rescued alive on Monday night, six days after their camp was >struck by a massive avalanche that killed nine of his colleagues, and four days after the country’s leaders, including the Prime Minister and the Defence Minister, mourned his death.

“He has been placed on ventilator to protect his airway and lungs in view of his comatose state. He remains extremely critical and is expected to have a stormy course in the next 24 to 48 hours due to the complications caused by re-warming and establishment of blood flow to the cold parts of the body,” said a health bulletin issued by the hospital authorities.

The bulletin said he has pneumonia, and liver and kidney dysfunction.

“Fortunately there was no cold exposure related frost bite or bone injuries to him,” it said.

The bulletin said Koppad, buried under tonnes of snow and ice from February 3 to February 8, “was found to be conscious but drowsy and disoriented.”

Operation in progress to find the soldiers, who were buried alive after an avalanche hit an Army post, with additional specialised equipment and teams deployed at the site. Photo: Special Arrangement

Village prays for Lance Naik

The entire Betadur village is praying for Hanamanthappa Koppad’s recovery. The Lance Naik was brought out alive from under several feet of snow on Monday, six days after an avalanche buried an Army post in Siachen. The > family members and villagers shared their joy with journalists on Tuesday.

For them, this was nothing short of a miracle.

He came in my dream, says mother

Mahadevi (Jayashri), wife of Lance Naik Hanumanthappa Koppad, termed his survival a ‘rebirth’. “If he has survived miraculously, it is mainly because of his mother’s prayers,” she said.

Hanamanthappa’s mother Basavva said she had always been confident that he would survive. “He came to me in my dream, stood beside me and told me that he will return. I prayed to my family deity, took a vow and she [the goddess] has saved my son,” she said in a choked voice.

Arrangements were made for Jayashri, her child Netravati, Basavva and a few others to travel by road to Goa and board a flight to New Delhi. “We were unable to reach Goa by 4 p.m. So we got the tickets cancelled and booked for the 7 p.m. flight,” a relative who accompanied them to Goa told The Hindu.

Modi lauds Koppad’s indomitable spirit

Lance Naik Hanamanthappa Koppad, who miraculously survived for six days under several feet of snow in the Siachen glacier, was on Tuesday flown out in a helicopter to the Siachen base camp, from where he was brought to the Thois airbase. Within hours, he was transported on an Indian Air Force aircraft, accompanied by critical care specialists, to New Delhi.

>Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who visited the hospital on Tuesday, praised “the endurance & indomitable spirit of Lance Naik Hanamanthappa”, and called him “an outstanding soldier.”

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar extended prayers to “Naik Hanamanthappa who miraculously survived the avalanche at Siachen”.

Army Chief General Dalbir Singh spoke of the soldier’s indomitable mental robustness and his refusal to give in to the harsh elements.

The appreciation of the fighting spirit shown by Hanamanthappa came even as several military sources criticised the way the entire top brass rushed in to condole the death of all those who were hit by the avalanche.

About 150 soldiers, two rescue dogs — Dot and Misha — and some sophisticated radars all were part of the heroic rescue efforts at Siachen since February 3, when an ice wall broke off and fell on the Army post located at 19,500 feet in northern glacier. The debris covered an area of 800 x 1000 metres with a depth of 25 to 30 feet, some of the boulders as big as a small room.

Over 150 soldiers, including specialised rescue teams, began round-the-clock search operation in Siachen, where the day temperature was an average of -30 degrees Celsius and night temperature fell to around -55 degrees Celsius. A medical aid post was also set up.

The military airlifted rock drills and electrical saws to break the blue ice that is harder than concrete.

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Printable version | Nov 29, 2020 8:00:18 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/Siachen-survivor-battles-for-life-at-Army-hospital/article15617274.ece

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