A group of rescuers of the Indian army on Monday were on a routine drill, during an operation to rescue ten missing soldiers on a massive block of ice on the Siachen glacier, when they found an unconscious and wilted Lance Naik Hanamanthappa Koppad, who was among the ten soldiers missing after an avalanche hit their post on Wednesday.
Lance Naik Koppad is a resident of Betadur village in Dharwad district of Karnataka. He survived miraculously and is being treated in the RR Hospital in Jammu. But his medical condition is said to be critical.
Dharmendra Kumar Meena, SP of Dharwad, told Firstpost on the phone from Belgaum that he met the family of Lance Naik Koppad in Betudur village in his district two days ago.
“He had joined the army in 2003 as a soldier. His father is a farmer and he is married to a woman named Madhavi and they have a daughter Netra, who is one year old,” he said.
“It was extremely difficult to give them hope, but the news that he is alive is comforting,” he added.
Lance Naik Koppad is the only earning member of his family and got married two years back in a nearby district.
Madhavi, his wife, told Firstpost, “While I am happy that my husband is alive and I would go to see him soon, I feel the pain of other families too whose family members have died in this tragedy. We are completely dependent on my husband for our survival. He is the only earning member in the family. I had lost hope of him being alive. The entire village turned up at our home and I am preparing to go to see him.”
Ramappa Koppad, the father of Lance Naik Koppad, told a police inspector posted in Kundgod village that after having lost hope for six days, he was happy to learn about his son being alive. He hoped his son would survive.
The army says the Lance Naik Koppad was found after great difficulty as the rescue operations and efforts were hampered by frequent blizzards, extreme freezing temperature and low visibility apart from the effects of rarefied atmosphere at such high altitude.
General D S Hooda, Northern Army Commander based in Udhampur, Jammu, said on Tuesday that of the ten soldiers buried under the ice, Lance Naik Koppad has been found alive, although his medical condition is not stable.
"It was a miraculous rescue," said General Hooda,
Ten army soldiers, including a junior commissioned officer, went missing after their post was buried by an avalanche at 19,600ft in one of the world’s highest battlefields between India and Pakistan near the Line of Control in the northern glacier sector of the Ladakh region on Wednesday.
“Finding the place was the first difficult job. We know now the exact place where our soldiers could be buried. To find him alive is miracle, and I hope these miracles would continue,” Col N N Joshi, a defense ministry spokesperson in Srinagar told Firstpost.
Rescue teams have been sifting through a huge mass of ice in the treacherous region and are cutting through up to 30 feet of ice at multiple locations where soldiers could be buried.
"After searching for six days, rescue parties were able to hit the camp site," Joshi said.
“We should be able to extract the bodies of other missing soldiers in next couple of days. The Army and Air force have been working with efficacy while keeping in mind dangers involved in such kind of operation and finding Lance Naik Koppad alive is a testimony of that,” he said.