Avalanche traps 135 people near Siachen, rescue operation underway

Published: April 7, 2012

Rescue teams headed to scene: army spokesman. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: At least 135 people, including 124 servicemen and 11 civilians, went missing early Saturday after an avalanche hit them at Gayari sector near Siachen Glacier, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said. 

The incident occurred at about 6am at an altitude of about 16,000 feet (4 876.8 meters) and 180 miles northeast of Skardu the capital of Baltistan.

Troops with sniffer dogs, aided by helicopters, were frantically trying to find signs of life in the deep snow after the avalanche engulfed the camp in mountainous Gayari, Siachen, in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir. Heavy machinery has been flown in from Rawalpindi.

A team of doctors and paramedics also rushed to the high-altitude militarised region, which is close to the de facto border with India and where temperatures plummet to minus 70 degrees Celsius (minus 94F).

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

He later added that despite hours of searching and contrary to local media reports, no bodies or survivors had been found. An ISPR release also revised the figure to 135 trapped.

“It’s too early to say anything,” he replied when asked about the chances of finding anyone alive after more than 12 hours. “The rescue operation is under way.”

List of names of all those buried under the snow can be found here.

ISPR has provided the following helpline numbers from where relatives of the buried soldiers can inquire about updates:

051-50932040, 051-5590212, 0321-5136525

President, Prime Minister express sorrow, regret

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani expressed deep sorrow and regret over the “unfortunate snow slide” near Siachen.

A statement from the prime minister says that he is in constant contact with the concerned authorities regarding the rescue operation and has said that the incident will not undermine high morale of the soldiers and officers.

President Asif Ali Zardari has also expressed concern over the incident and prayed for the soldiers’ early recovery.

Zardari has directed concerned authorities to expedite the rescue and relief operation to save the lives of those stranded in the snow, adding that all possible options and facilities should be utilised for their safe recovery, including  full cooperation and assistance from the civil administration

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan has also expressed sorrow over the incident and has asked the nation to pray for the soldiers.

List of names of those buried can be found here.

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Reader Comments (184)

  • Apr 8, 2012 - 6:35AM

    *Sad news’ i hope theresoldiers recoverd Alive..@ :( *

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  • jagjit sidhoo
    Apr 8, 2012 - 8:01AM

    @malik: Earthquakes ,floods& avalanches are events triggered by huge natural forces which are beyond the control of man. India has its share of these natural calamities if we could control them would we not prevent them in our own country ? Would the USA & Japan not prevent these events from occurring in their countries they have the most advanced technology ? I am surprised 42 people agree with you.Please pray for the departed souls and their families.

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  • jagjit sidhoo
    Apr 8, 2012 - 8:05AM

    @Faesal: Sad that we can hate even at a time like this .

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  • jagjit sidhoo
    Apr 8, 2012 - 8:07AM

    @Shabber Abbas: Spare us from these conspiracy
    theories .

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  • g37347
    Apr 8, 2012 - 8:08AM

    I pray for soldiers on both sides of the border, but as long as we are up there defending our motherland from Arabian viruses, we shall fight to the last men. Here we show our peacefulness and there you go, we shall never let that happen again.

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  • Gupt Rogue
    Apr 8, 2012 - 8:25AM

    My condolences to the pak esablishment for the dead 130 soldiers.

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  • maiden
    Apr 8, 2012 - 8:36AM

    @munna
    According to washington post it is 130 soldiers.

    Yahudi conspiracy

    Disgusting filthy mindset. I pray for ur mind to open.. Hoope all the vistims are recoveredRecommend

  • mr. righty rightist
    Apr 8, 2012 - 8:44AM

    @Lt Col Hamed Usman Choudhary writes “Why do so many of these Indians comment in a Pak newspaper? It seems some of them are obsessed with Pakistan, though there are more than enough topics for them at home!”

    I’m obsessed with Pakistan because your ilk have waged 4 wars on us.

    Besides we are 1.2 billion people. Here you are reading some 40 odd comments.

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  • Apr 8, 2012 - 8:56AM

    135 people of Pakistan Army feared dead after an avalanche buried a Pakistan army camp near Siachin & Pakistan Media is missing in action.

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  • Ahmer Ali
    Apr 8, 2012 - 9:36AM

    They are real martyrs and may Allah Almighty bestow His endless and greatest favors and blessings upon them Summa Aameen.

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  • kaalchakra
    Apr 8, 2012 - 9:38AM

    While feeling sad natural for some, each ghazi of Pakistan army knows that death is dearer than life because upon shahadat instant entry into jannat is assured.Recommend

  • Aqeel Haider
    Apr 8, 2012 - 9:57AM

    My deep condolences with families, who faces such incident, Allah with us, we are Muslim and can face every step of life. My all feelings with all families. God bless our country.

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  • Whats in the name.
    Apr 8, 2012 - 9:57AM

    @Lt.Col(retd) Hamid Usman Chowdhury,
    Because to enlighten from lies to truth, from darkness to light, from the propaganda to the facts.

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  • Truthbetold
    Apr 8, 2012 - 11:10AM

    @Gilgit-Baltistan:

    “They are from Northern Light infantry (NLI) Gilgit-Baltistan, not Pakistan Army. May God saves them :-(“

    Terrible loss of life. Condolences to the families of these poor soldiers. Yes, it is the NLI soldiers who have been assigned to this horrible place. It was also the poor lads of NLI, 3000 of whom were sent to their death in Kargil by Musharaf.

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  • Faesal
    Apr 8, 2012 - 12:16PM

    @A. Khan:
    The base or HQ was situated there for 20 years.

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  • Darjat
    Apr 8, 2012 - 12:33PM

    Indeed a very very sad news. I guess NLI might have assessed the risks before establishing the HQ in that location! This kind of avalanche must be an exceptional one! and it speaks of the climate change phenomena. Must be very difficult to undertake rescue activities. The volume of this kind of avalanche (snow) may not melt even during this summer. A very challenging task for the rescuers!!

    Prayers for the souls to rest in eternal peace.

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  • RAJA TARIQ
    Apr 8, 2012 - 1:24PM

    very sad news, let to pray for them,
    oh ALLAH ALMIGHTY , help rescue teams to save all our brave soldiers who have trapped.

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  • Apr 8, 2012 - 3:21PM

    @BruteForce:
    yup, but u should also understand this, that, by doing this and accepting the current borders & not releasing the area which is now occupied bt india, may causes danger for millions people of pakistan bcz india want to occupie more & more that areas so then to stop the pakistani waters fron karakoram & himalyan glaciers & mountains & divert them to pakistan to exploit & destroy pakistan agricullturally, & etc etc etc.See history of indo-pak relation from 1947, when india did’nt give pakistan the areas that should be in pakistan, by studying from 1947 to 2012 we come to know that india’s armed forces & their establishment does’nt our friends they are our enemies despite of our many struggles to makeing relations good.

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  • Mansoor Ahmed
    Apr 8, 2012 - 6:01PM

    No offense, but I find it horribly rediculous that whole Army Battalion was hit by an Avalanche. Snow skate boarders blast a bomb at the top of snowy mountain before skating on it to avoid any Avalanche senario, and what little or heavy Avalanche is present, actually slides down with that blast and the stage is set for skate boarding. Now think of an Army Unit, like they never knew they’re operating on a high altitude and never actually expected such to happen on a mountain full of snow… you really wana bang you head in to wall after reviewing the situation. Seriously, we criticise Army for their irresponsible acts through out the pakistan, but this was crime by Top officials of Army for not assesing the situation properly and for not taking the proper measures.Recommend

  • Ram
    Apr 8, 2012 - 6:09PM

    It is unfortunate incident. my prayers are with them.

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  • Jalal Pasha
    Apr 8, 2012 - 6:49PM

    @Pollack:
    People blame, institutions investigate. Insitutions should speak up, but on the contrary, people speak audibly. Any reasons why HAARP SHOULDN”T be blamed for this incident?

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  • Abdul
    Apr 8, 2012 - 6:55PM

    It looks great when they show on tv army personnel walking on the ice, but reality is something else, no one needs army in that place.

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  • Umber
    Apr 8, 2012 - 7:07PM

    May God be with them. Very unfortunate. US has agreed to help in search and rescue. All credit to the only country that is always first to offer, help. Pakistan should realize who their true friends are. So should the radicals.

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  • Niazi london
    Apr 8, 2012 - 7:58PM

    We should take this situation as big scenario n to plan for futur to avoid Auchan big. Disaster OF our brave soldiers.
    We should take big measures to help out n take china assistant bec china is very close-by to this area.

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  • bharat
    Apr 8, 2012 - 8:43PM

    Condolences from India for the dead soldiers.

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  • Noor Rehman
    Apr 9, 2012 - 11:23PM

    @malik:
    And I’m a hundred percent sure it would’ve sounded a lot better if you’d just asked for a prayer for these men instead of spouting conspiracy theories. Now is a time for prayers, not emotional ravings.

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  • Noor Rehman
    Apr 9, 2012 - 11:25PM

    @BruteForce:
    I’m sorry? What present position, could you elaborate on that please?

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  • Noor Rehman
    Apr 9, 2012 - 11:28PM

    @kaalchakra:
    From one Pakistani to another:
    How exactly do you know about this unreported activity? Here are the facts: It’s a glacier- snow and ice- it’s unstable, and disasters like these have happened. How about you spend you’re time praying for the soldiers up there instead of spouting conspiracy theories.

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  • Noor Rehman
    Apr 9, 2012 - 11:31PM

    @Gilgit-Baltistan:
    As a fellow Gilgiti, I thank you for that clarification. But FYI, Gilgit Baltistan is a part of Pakistan. Also, the Northern Light Infantry (NLI) is a Light Infantry Regiment of the Pakistan Army . Headquartered in Gilgit.
    Get your facts straight.

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  • Noor Rehman
    Apr 9, 2012 - 11:35PM

    @Concerned:
    The Kargil occupation that you highlighted is considered a necessity because of trust deficit caused by India. If you want to express condolences or pray for the men up there then do so. There are already people from both sides here spreading conspiracy theories. Please don’t add to it.

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  • Noor Rehman
    Apr 9, 2012 - 11:37PM

    @like or Not:
    I’d like to know your definition of “legal”, if you don’t mind.

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  • jagjit sidhoo
    Apr 10, 2012 - 7:31AM

    @Noor Rehman: Good try but some people just love their conspiracy theories

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  • Sav
    Apr 10, 2012 - 8:57AM

    these brave soldiers were sacrificing their lives 4 us.. By their dying it’s OUR lives they’ve buyed.. MAY THEIR SOULS REST IN PEACE!!
    and Allah unki families ko sbr day.. Ameen

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  • Brig (R) Waheed Uz Zaman Tariq, MBBS, PhD, DpBact (Manchester), FCPS (Pak), FRCath (London), FRCP Edinburgh
    Apr 10, 2012 - 9:27AM

    Let us acknowledge that the enemy is weather and nature and not the human force. Then waht we gain by being there is our symbolic presence on both side. Just to show our flags and signs to be present there. At what expense, all is that? Money can be spent but human lives are more precious, irresepctive of colour and creed. The wisdom prevails when we talk and we are ready to settle. We ahve witnessed the mature nations settling the issues of Hong Kong and North Ireland. Gibralter is nearly a settled issue. When we mature as responsible nations, may be that sense prevails one day and sanity gains its strength in our hearts and minds. The terrain is hostile and will never give way to carvans of either side to make a highway for free movement. There should be some end to that, provided we atlk and committ ourselves for the peace and tranquality.

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