Finding Lance Naik Koppad was 'miraculous': General Hooda optimistic about locating soldiers' bodies in Siachen

The possibility of finding all the dead bodies of soldiers who had gone missing after an avalanche buried their post on the Siachen glacier six days ago, has increased after rescuers found a soldier alive buried under 25 feet of ice on Monday. A junior commissioned officer (JCO) and nine other ranks of the Madras Regiment were buried after an avalanche hit their post at an altitude of 19,000 feet on the highest battlefield on earth.

Lance Naik Hanamanthappa Koppad, a resident of Betadur village in Karanatka has survived miraculously, and is being treated in the RR Hospital in Jammu, but his medical condition is said to be critical.

General DS Hooda, Northern Army Commander, based in Udhampur, Jammu said on Tuesday among the ten soldiers buried under ice Lance Naik Koppad has been found alive, although his medical condition is not stable.

Finding Lance Naik Koppad was miraculous: General Hooda optimistic about locating soldiers bodies in Siachen

Operations by the specialised teams of the Army and the Air Force in progress to search for the bodies of the soldiers hit by an avalanche in Siachen. PTI

"It was a miraculous rescue," said General Hooda said.

Ten army soldiers, including a junior commissioned officer, went missing after their post was buried by an avalanche at 19,600ft in Siachen in the northern glacier sector of the Ladakh region on Wednesday. “We found the area after great difficulty. The efforts have been hampered by frequent blizzards, extreme freezing temperature and low visibility apart from the effects of rarefied atmosphere in such high altitude,” Col NN Joshi, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Defence, told Firstpost in Srinagar.

“Finding the place was the first difficult job. We know the exact place know, were our soldiers could be buried. To find him alive is a miracle, and I hope these miracles will continue,” Joshi added.

Army teams have been sifting through the huge mass of ice in the treacherous region, sometimes digging more than 30 feet to find the soldiers who are buried.

"The operation has entered its sixth day and rescue parties have hit the camp site," Joshi said.

"Rescue teams are cutting through upto 30 feet of ice at multiple locations where our soldiers could be buried.

“We should be able to extract the bodies of the other missing soldiers in next couple of days. The Army and Air force have been working with efficacy while keeping in mind the dangers involved in such kind of operation and Lance Naik Koppad being found is testimony to that,” he added.

Indian Army rescuers fought adverse weather conditions to reach to the spot where the earlier post stood. But after the picket was buried by an avalanche, it was carried forward to hundreds of metres ahead of the original location.

It is highly likely now that the dead bodies will be found in next two days. The first challenge you encounter in operations is like these is finding the place, where the soldiers could be buried, an army officer said.

“But after we know the place that they are in, it becomes easier to find the bodies. Although I must say it is highly unlikely any of them will be alive now. But we are praying for a miracle,” Joshi said.

To reach the spot, rescuers needed to spread a web of ropes and the stairs, so that people could walk on it. At 19,600 feet, soldiers can’t walk for more than 10 steps, “you need rest for five minutes, and than carry forward because the oxygen content is very low.”

This is the second big operation carried by the soldiers across India and Pakistan since 2012. The deadly mountains buried 129 Pakistani soldiers and 11 civilians on 7 April, 2012, when a massive avalanche struck the Pakistani military headquarters at Gayari, 30 kilometres west of the glacier terminus. The operation, to rescue the dead bodies, lasted for months and Pakistan was forced to invite international experts to help them in the rescue mission — which also failed to extract dead bodies for a long time.

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Updated Date: Feb 09, 2016 15:11:46 IST

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