More than a day after an avalanche buried 10 Army personnel when it hit a high-altitude military post in Siachen Glacier, chances of finding any survivors were very remote even as rescue efforts were on Thursday scaled up with induction of specialised teams, sniffer dogs and equipment.
"Rescue teams are braving adverse weather and effects of rarified atmosphere to locate and rescue survivors. However, it is with deepest of regrets that we have to state that chances of finding any survivors are now very remote," Defence PRO (Northern Command) Col SD Goswami said in a statement.
The deadly avalanche hit the post situated at 19,600 feet in Northern Glacier sector in Ladakh region in the world's highest battlefield on Wednesday in which a JCO and nine jawans were trapped. The missing personnel were attached to the Madras Regiment stationed at the post, which is buried under tonnes of snow.
As the rescue operations by specialized teams of the Army and the Air Force entered the second day on Thursday, Col Goswami said specialised equipment was flown to Leh in the morning.
The glaciated area presents temperatures ranging from a minimum of minus 42 degrees Celsius in the night to maximum of minus 25 degrees C during the day, he said.
He said that blocks of snow had fallen on the post, burying it very deep.
"To clear the same is a very difficult task," he said, adding that "building on yesterday's efforts, a very large rescue team has been deployed today to reach down till the post."
"The rescue operations have been intensified with induction of specialised teams and equipment to trace the missing Army men," the Defence PRO said.
Heavy snow cutters and special equipment are being used to clear and cut the ice blocks, as Army and IAF teams battle harsh weather conditions and difficult terrain to trace the missing soldiers.
Meanwhile, according to this report in Dawn, the director general military operations (DGMO) of Pakistan Army called his Indian counterpart and offered help for the rescue of the missing personnel.
The Inter-Services public Relations (ISPR) in a statement confirmed the Pakistan DGMO's call to his Indian counterpart.
The Siachen Glacier in the Karakorum range is known as the highest militarised zone in the world. Thousands of Indian and Pakistani troops contest an area at altitudes above 20,000 feet where they must deal with altitude sickness, high winds, frostbite and temperatures as low as minus 60 degrees Celsius.
Military experts say the inhospitable climate and avalanche-prone terrain have claimed more lives than gunfire.
In 2012, at least 140 people including Pakistani soldiers and civilians were killed when an avalanche struck an Army camp in the strategically important Gayari sector.
An estimated 8,000 troops have died on the glacier since 1984, almost all of them from avalanches, landslides, frostbite, altitude sickness or heart failure rather than combat, local media reports said.
The strategic importance of the glacier is widely seen as insignificant. Until 1984, neither side had troops permanently stationed there.
Both countries agree on a need to demilitarise the glacier, but attempts to reach any agreement have been unsuccessful.
With agency inputs