Pakistani soldiers dug through the remnants of a massive avalanche for a second day Sunday searching for 135 people buried when the wall of snow engulfed a military complex in a mountain battleground close to the Indian border.
Over 24 hours after the disaster at the entrance to the Siachen Glacier, no bodies have yet been recovered, said military officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. More heavy equipment is being sent to help with the effort, they said.
Hundreds of troops, sniffer dogs and mechanical equipment worked at the scene Saturday but struggled to make much headway into the avalanche, which crashed onto the rear headquarters building in the Gayari sector early in the morning, burying it under some 21 meters (70 feet) of snow.
The military said in a statement that at least 124 soldiers from the 6 Northern Light Infantry Battalion and 11 civilian contractors were missing.
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 posted at elevations of up to 6,700 meters (22,000 feet) and have skirmished intermittently since 1984, though the area has been quiet since a cease-fire in 2003. The glacier is known as the world’s highest battlefield.