Efforts stepped up to trace missing soldiers in Himachal
With the weather clearing up on Saturday following days of snowfall, rescuers stepped up efforts to trace five soldiers who were trapped under the avalanche near Namgia Dogri outpost along Indo-Tibet border in Kinnaur district.
About 220 personnel of Indian Army and Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) are involved in the rescue operation which entered the fourth day. “The search operation began at 7 am. Efforts have been stepped up and we are hopeful,” a spokesperson of the Indian Army told reporters.
He said mountaineers of Dogra Scouts and specialised equipment, including thermal radars and a sniffer dog, had been deployed in the search operation.
Snowfall, high velocity winds, blizzard and poor visibility had hindered the rescue operations on Friday. The avalanche was triggered on February 20 when the glacier near Namgia Dogri slid, burying six soldiers of Jammu and Kashmir Rifles when they were on a routine patrol.
One of the troopers, Havildar Rakesh Kumar, 41, was rescued but he succumbed to injuries at the civil hospital, Pooh. Kumar’s body was flown to his village Ghumarpur in Bilaspur district where he was cremated with military and state honours on Friday.
The missing soldiers are Govind Bahadur Chetri, Rajesh Rishi, Arjun Kumar, Nitin Rana and Videsh Chand.
Meanwhile, family members are hopeful that the missing soldiers could be safe. Dinesh Kumar, brother of Videsh Chand, claimed that when they made a call the mobile phone of the missing soldier a day after the disaster it was working.
“When we dialled his number on Thursday, the phone rang for some time and then got switched off. It again rang in the evening and is switched off since then,” Dinesh said, adding that they had informed the army authorities about it.