Over 130 Pakistani soldiers are feared buried in an avalanche that occurred in the Siachen glacier in the Himalayas where thousands of Pakistani and Indian troops are based, a media report said.
According to local media reports, the incident took place around 6am on Saturday when an avalanche hit an army camp in Siachen, the world’s second longest glacier in non-polar areas.
“We are waiting for news and keeping our fingers crossed,” said army spokesman Major General Athar Abbas.
Hundreds of troops, sniffer dogs and mechanical equipment were at the scene, but were struggling to make much headway into the avalanche, which crashed down onto the rear headquarters building in the Gayari sector early in the morning, burying it under some 70 metres of snow, said Abbas.
“It’s on a massive scale,” he said. “Everything is completely covered.”
Siachen is on the northern tip of the divided Kashmir region claimed by both India and Pakistan. The accident highlighted the risks of deploying troops to one of the most inhospitable places on earth.
The thousands of troops from both nations stationed there brave viciously cold temperatures, altitude sickness, high winds and isolation for months at a time. Troops have been deployed at elevations of up to 22,000 feet though the area has been quiet since a ceasefire in 2003. The glacier is known as the world’s highest battlefield.
“I can’t comprehend how an avalanche can reach that place,” said an officer who did not give his name because he is not authorised to speak to the media. “It was supposed to be safe.”