Toxic gases hamper search at Siachen avalanche site

Published: April 17, 2012

ISLAMABAD: Toxic gases Tuesday hampered the search for 138 people buried by an avalanche at a high-altitude Pakistan army camp, as teams from the United States and Norway arrived at the site to help operations.

A huge wall of snow crashed into the remote Siachen Glacier base high in the mountains in disputed Kashmir more than a week ago, smothering an area of one square kilometre (a third of a square mile).

Rescuers have dug tunnels in the hard mass of snow and ice to try to reach the buried soldiers and civilians at the Giari base, but toxic gases have built up inside one of them, the military said in a statement.

A rise in the temperature has increased the risk of further snow slides, the statement said, forcing workers on the site to take extra precautions.

Specialist teams from Norway and the United States arrived at Giari, while Swiss and German teams have returned home after helping the efforts.

Search teams are looking for the trapped soldiers and civilians at six different points on the site, around 4,000 metres (13,000 feet) up in the mountains.

More than 450 rescuers are working at the site near the de facto border with India in the militarised region of Kashmir, though experts have said there is virtually no chance of finding any survivors.

Kashmir has been the cause of two wars between India and Pakistan and the rivals fought over Siachen in 1987, though guns on the glacier have largely fallen silent since a peace process began in 2004.

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Reader Comments (33)

  • Zaikam
    Apr 17, 2012 - 2:39PM

    This is an ultimate sacrifice one can afford to a country. But perhaps a nation having Asma Jahangir and Firdous Ashiq Awan doesn’t deserve such sacrifices.


  • antony
    Apr 17, 2012 - 2:58PM

    with all the prayers from whole pakistan still Allah is not helping the rescue efforts is the only conclusion ..Why you may ask .


  • Apr 17, 2012 - 3:07PM

    May Allah save them


  • Khan
    Apr 17, 2012 - 3:23PM

    What kind of machinery we are using? from the dp it seems we never tried to rescue our men .. Do we have some kind of snowblower as, from previous pictures it seemed it was open space and not steep ground.
    Can not we use something like this snowblower


  • Apr 17, 2012 - 4:31PM

    May ALLAH Soul Rest & Peace.Recommend

  • Apr 17, 2012 - 4:32PM

    Our Army is best Army in the World. Pak Army ZindabadRecommend

  • true_blue_pakistani
    Apr 17, 2012 - 4:37PM

    Declare it as national Cemetery, pray for the lost souls.
    Withdraw from Siachen immediately.


  • Naeem Malik
    Apr 17, 2012 - 4:48PM

    @Asim what are u talking about, why u mention Asma Jahangir? she is very honest and brave women.


  • Nasir
    Apr 17, 2012 - 4:52PM

    @Khan – The snow-blower you’ve mentioned is for ‘soft’ snow. The snow accumulated from the avalanche has now turned rock-hard. A blower would not be able to just extract snow due to suction and simply blow it out. You need tough material that can pierce through the hard icy formation to break it apart. Also, the blower you mentioned is for ground level surface. Not sure how it would work if you’re excavating through the land.


  • Hakeem
    Apr 17, 2012 - 4:58PM

    May Allah swt grant them victory over this severe weather conditions and turn this into an opportunity to make a great success of Pakistan

    Of course whole world is watching how Pakistan Army works!


  • Wajahat
    Apr 17, 2012 - 5:16PM

    Every news item of the Tribune has a subtle insinuation inbuilt. Why have you called it disputed Kashmir, Mr Tribune. I believe this part of Kashmir is not disputed. Which side are you on !!!Recommend

  • Zia
    Apr 17, 2012 - 5:22PM

    @Khan. Unlike fresh snow this evalance snow is very compact and in such subzero temperatuere is hard like solid rock. Snowblowers can only blow fresh snow. Temperature is so low at that place that even Ice melting chemicals are not useful.


  • Khan
    Apr 17, 2012 - 5:42PM

    Thank you for the explanation. I was of course referring to the time when avalanche occurred .. the top snow must have been soft, which could have been removed quickly. Snow gets hard as rock with time.


  • siraj Muhammad
    Apr 17, 2012 - 5:44PM

    I request to all Muslim’s and All Pakistani’s to pray for the trapped Army’s and Allah Bless him. (AMIN) and ThanksRecommend

  • siraj Muhammad
    Apr 17, 2012 - 5:50PM

    I request to all Muslims and all Pakistani’s to pray for the trapped army’sin siachen and Allah Bless him (AMIN)


  • MarkH
    Apr 17, 2012 - 6:30PM

    Having still been hardened by the same climate it would be more likened to a rocky mountainside falling rather than fresh, soft snow.


  • Pakistani
    Apr 17, 2012 - 7:24PM

    Allah knows better than u..he is all knowing..


  • Shin this pit
    Apr 17, 2012 - 8:11PM

    @Wajahat: If this part of Kashmir is not “disputed” then why do Pakistan and India have large army contingents exchanging ceremonial fire and getting killed by frostbite and avalanches in that god forsaken place?

    Also, I like to think of the Tribune as a Ms. rather than a Mr. :p


  • Faesal
    Apr 17, 2012 - 8:11PM

    Withdrawal is not an option. If we back down, the indians will capture it. Not at all we are going away


  • Yunos
    Apr 17, 2012 - 8:15PM

    What type of toxic gas? CO2, Methane ??


    Apr 17, 2012 - 8:27PM

    Ya Allah, we have faith in u, no matter what anyone says. Ghazis or shuhadah insha’a Allah


  • Yuri Kondratyuk
    Apr 17, 2012 - 11:50PM

    Even I was wondering what toxic gases would be found at that temperature and altitude.


  • Naresh
    Apr 18, 2012 - 1:06AM

    You stated “What type of toxic gas? CO2, Methane ??”
    AFAIK Toxic Gases are usually of Chemical or even Nuclear Nature.
    Methane is not a Toxic Gas. Carbon Monoxide and Carbon Dioxide can be Toxic but possibly in very Heavy Concentrations.
    With only 138 people involved I doubt very much if there was such a Large Concentration of either Carbon Dioxide or Carbon Monoxide to reach Toxic Levels.
    Cheers Recommend

  • Hamza Tauqir
    Apr 18, 2012 - 1:21AM

    @Naeem Malik:
    What do u mean by saying that Asma jhangir is honest she is the most corrupt civil worker who has no respect for Pakistan army. And is always complaining about such a respected institution. If she is a human right worker so tell her to come and speak against human right violation of life loss at siachin. Did she spoke of anything about the incident but rather kept a mumble because she can only critsize the blood of our brave men


  • Zain
    Apr 18, 2012 - 1:41AM

    In addition of physically reaching the men by heaving machinery, rescuers should have tried to make communication using a narrow tunnel or you may call it a bore with the help of a drill and try to atleast send in oxygen, liquid food. Drilling is much faster as compared to the heavy machinery used and could have proved to be the lifeline of the troops. Its never too late, i guess rescuers should consider this quick option.Recommend

  • Sher khan
    Apr 18, 2012 - 3:05AM

    Asma Jehangir is one lady who has done nothing but to destroy pakistans reputation.

    It might be methane, co2 is not dangerous…. Recommend

  • ashok
    Apr 18, 2012 - 3:58AM


    I suggested the same in early days.


  • Ashvinn
    Apr 18, 2012 - 5:57AM

    What toxi gases? Is Pakistan storing chemical weapons at this place?


  • Nayab Pannun.
    Apr 18, 2012 - 10:47AM

    The extreme weather, suffocation, no nutrition and now this Toxic gas,, No chances of the victims’ survival!! :(
    May Allah Do what is in their favour.


  • Nayab Pannun.
    Apr 18, 2012 - 10:48AM

    May Allah do, what is in the favour of the victims!


    Apr 18, 2012 - 12:05PM


    Why do Indians love embarassing themselves here? Talk about abusing the anonymity status on the internet.


  • Abubakar
    Apr 19, 2012 - 8:24AM

    Any update on the rescue work?


  • Ashfaq
    Apr 20, 2012 - 12:25AM

    Asma is the only honest voice against the land grabbing military generals who have bankrupted Pakistan with fruitless wars and backward cold war era foreign policies like “strategic depth” that has taken away scarce resources from education and health for common pakistanis (includes our soldiers). The generals and commanders don’t care as their kids are all studying in America and go on to work in wall street.


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