ISLAMABAD: A media team, comprising 46 national and international journalists, that was set to fly to Siachen to report on the fatal avalanche, failed to land at the Skardu airport due to the harsh weather on Monday.
Air control tower informed aviation authorities that landing the C130 military cargo plane at Skardu airport could be dangerous as more than 55 people were onboard.
Media representatives have been persistent on undertaking a trip to the icy post to report on the incident further, however, weather conditions did not allow them. An Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) official said that they tried their best to fly media to Siachen and the plane even reached Skardu, the closest air strip, but could not land due to weather conditions. He added that the weather did not allow even helicopters to fly out. Media personnel would have had to board choppers to reach Gayari, site of the avalanche tragedy.
The military official added that the visit has been postponed and will be rescheduled according to weather reports.
However, the Pakistan Meteorological Department does not expect the weather to pick up any time soon with rain/thunderstorm expected over the next 24 hours in Gilgit-Baltistan and surrounding areas.
President Asif Ali Zardari was due to visit Gayari sector, to inspect rescue operations being carried by Pakistani military with international assistance, but his staff too was informed of delays given the adverse weather situation.
Similarly, the visit of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani is also waiting for the weather to lift, allowing aviation authorities to clear a trip to Siachen.
Weather, cold nothwithstanding, Jawans soldier on
Search and rescue operations at Gayari continue round the clock despite extreme odds.
According to a press release issued here by ISPR on Monday, the weather remained very harsh and posed serious challenges to the men and machines working at the avalanche site.
“The rescue work is being carried out at full speed with sufficient number of plant equipment. The exasperating work at the tunnel being dug in the compact snow of avalanche, needed to access a suspected structure to find survivors, has made good progress by using explosives. A team of German and Swiss rescuers is also rendering useful help in conforming already available data to locate the survivors,” read the statement.