The Indian Army has confirmed the death of ten soldiers who were reported missing in the Siachen during a heavy avalanche. The troop included a junior commissioned officer (JCO) and nine other ranks of the Madras regiment.
“It is a tragic event and we salute the soldiers who braved all challenges to guard our frontiers and made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty,” said Lieutenant General DS Hooda, General Officer Commanding in Chief (GoC-in-C) Northern Command.
The tragedy is a continuation of the loss of Indian soldiers to weather vagaries, including avalanches and frost bites, in the last 30 years.
According to army sources, blocks of snow and ice had fallen on the post burying it very deep into the glaciated area. Heavy snow cutters and major equipment have been pressed into service to clear and cut the ice blocks. The glaciated area presents temperatures ranging from a minimum of minus 42 degrees in the night to maximum of minus 25 degrees during the day.
Though the Indian Army and Air Force have flown specialised teams and equipment to help in the rescue mission on the glacier, success eluded them at the world’s highest battlefield prompting the authorities to finally confirm the death of all the 10 soldiers.
“Operations by specialised teams of the Army and the Air Force have entered the second day today. Specialized equipment was flown in to Leh today morning to further boost the rescue efforts,” said Colonel SD Goswami, defence spokesman at Northern Command headquarters. Rescue teams are braving adverse weather and effects of rarefied atmosphere to locate and rescue survivors. “It is with deepest of regrets that we have to state that chances of finding any survivors are now very remote,” said Colonel Goswami.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has expressed his deep condolences in the tragedy. “Demise of soldiers in Siachen is very tragic. I salute the brave soldiers who gave their lives to the nation. Condolences to their families”, he tweeted.