Avalanche traps over 150 Pak soldiers in Siachen

Over 150 soldiers were buried alive when an avalanche smashed into a Pakistan army camp Saturday in the Gayari sector of Siachen, border with India, the military said.

Some of the bodies were recovered uptil now.

The rescue work is underway while Troops with sniffer dogs, aided by helicopters, were frantically trying to find signs of life in the snow.

A team of doctors and paramedics has also been rushed to the high-altitude region, which suffers extreme weather conditions — temperatures on the strategic Siachen glacier plummet to minus 70 degrees Celsius (minus 94F).

“More than 100 soldiers of NLI (Northern Light Infantry) including a colonel, commander and others were trapped when the avalanche hit a military camp,” army spokesman Major General Athar Abbas told media.

“At six o’clock this morning this avalanche hit a (military) headquarters. Over 130 soldiers and personnel are trapped,” said the spokesman, Major-General Athar Abbas, adding that rescue teams were headed to the scene.

He said the army would comment later on whether there were any casualties.

Rescue teams from other parts of the region have rushed to the spot. Avalanches and landslides are common in the disputed region.

In a statement, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani expressed his shock at the incident, which he said “would in no way would undermine the high morale of soldiers and officers.”

The headquarters in Gayari is the main gateway through which troops and supplies pass on their to other more remote outposts in the sector. It is situated in a valley between two high mountains, close to a military hospital, according to an officer who was stationed there in 2003.

“I can’t comprehend how an avalanche can reach that place,” said the officer, “It was supposed to be safe.”