The 10 Army personnel, who were hit by a massive avalanche at Siachen on Wednesday morning, have been declared dead by the Army.
They were stationed at an altitude of 19,600 feet on the Siachen Glacier in Jammu and Kashmir, close to the Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan.
Picture for representation only. Source: Flickr
The Army and Indian Air Force tried very hard to rescue the soldiers – a Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO) and nine other ranks of Army’s 19 Madras Regiment. They were buried under a mass of snow and a specialised team, along with sniffer dogs, was deployed to find them. The rescue team braved the adverse weather to locate the survivors, but the rescue operation failed.
“With deepest regret we have to state that chances of finding any survivors are very remote,” a Defence Spokesperson had said earlier.
The brave soldiers of the Indian Army serve in the most difficult terrains to safeguard the country. Siachen is the world’s highest active battlefield. It has temperatures ranging from a minimum of minus 42 degrees Celsius in the night to a maximum of minus 25 degrees Celsius during the day.
“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 Lt Gen DS Hooda, Army Commander, Northern Command.
The maximum tenure of any soldier on the northern glacier is three months. For some tougher posts, such as Bana post, it is restricted to 30 days. Indian Army currently occupies the full Siachen glacier, while Pakistani forces are stationed at the lower heights of Saltoro ridge.
According to reports, India has lost 33 officers, 54 JCOs and 782 jawans due to climatic conditions and other factors at Siachen, since the beginning of Operation Meghdoot to capture the Siachen glacier in 1984. An Army officer told The Indian Express that avalanches usually take place due to accumulation of snow and are triggered by morning sunlight.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid tribute to the brave soldiers with this message.
Demise of soldiers in Siachen is very tragic. I salute the brave soldiers who gave their lives to the nation. Condolences to their families.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) February 4, 2016