Siachen Snow Storm: Army Man Found Alive After 6 Days, 4 Still Missing



Siachen Rescue Op
KL Image by Special Arrangement

For six days, an army trooper Hanamanthappa was buried under 25 feet of snow at the Siachen Glacier, in temperatures close to minus 40 degrees.

Late last night, a rescue team that had been chipping away at ice for days, found him and was astonished to feel a faint pulse.

After an avalanche on February 3, Lance Naik Hanamanthappa and nine other army men were buried deep under the snow. A wall of ice, a Kilometre wide and 800 metres high, came crashing down on their post.

Hanamanthappa was trapped in an air bubble, which saved his life. He is stable and has been brought to the Army Research and Referral Hospital in Delhi.

“Recovering the army trooper is nothing short of a miracle. A wall of snow as thick and hard as concrete had fallen on them,” Lieutenant General SK Patyal told NDTV. “The operation was extremely difficult.”

Hours after the avalanche last week, the base camp had received a radio message from one of Hanamanthappa’s comrades.

When the rescuers found Hanamanthappa, they had expected it to be the same colleague who had made that last radio contact.

KL Image by Special Arrangement
KL Image by Special Arrangement

Five bodies have also been found after some 300 sorties and an intense search at a height of nearly 20,000 feet, where it is difficult to breathe, let alone dig.

Four more army men are still missing. “All other colleagues are regrettably no more with us,” said an officer.

The rescue, involving heavy equipment that had to be assembled at the top, and dogs, became particularly challenging because the snow had turned into hard chunks of ice. In temperatures between minus 40 and 25 degrees, rescue teams had to battle frequent blizzards and work through low visibility.

The 10 army men were at their base on the Saltoro ridge, at 19,600 feet and close to the border with Pakistan, when the avalanche struck.

The Siachen Glacier located at the northern tip of Kashmir is the world’s highest and coldest battlefield. More army men have died here because of the weather and difficult terrain than in battle. At least 869 officers and army personnel have been killed there since the mid-1980s.


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