Avalanche near Gulmarg kills 18 Indian soldiers in Kashmir

Posted By: Zeke Piestrup on February 8, 2010 10:09 am

A heavy weekend of snow led to deadly destruction on Monday.  Three miles from Gulmarg, the Himalayan ski area, an avalanche plowed over and through an indian Army high-altitude training camp.  The massive slide killed 18, injuring 25 of the 350 Indian soldiers who were conducting a skiing test.

Three days prior to the slide, Gulmargsnowsafety.com issued an “Instability Warning” with a “HIGH potential for climax avalanches.”  Just today, the site posted this about the deadly avalanche:

The Gulmarg Ski Patrol, Snow Safety, and Avalanche Forecaster extend their condolences to the members of HAWES and their families.

Storm totals approaching 135cm at the elevation of Gulmarg village. Estimates at 3 meters in the start zone of the Chooti Nali avalanche path. Our speculation is that this path produced the avalanche which hit the military group training in a forested area near treeline. Sadly this tragedy was caused by a natural avalanche which exceeded previously known runout limits. Due to ongoing storming conditions, it is difficult to determine the exact characteristics of this avalanche. The exception is the deposition zone whose devastation was evident in 100 year old trees broken 50 feet above the ground by the air blast. The dimensions of the deposition extended 300 meters in length, 100 meters width and averaged 4 meters depth. All imaginable configurations were present at the initial response with 7 partially buried victims, all with serious injuries, being stabilized and evacuated. Then a wave of dead victims were found in typical locations, a probe strike near a ski, 4 deep burials in front of trees. 3 more partially buried men were found together and alive, covered by broken tree branches. Ski patrollers assisting in the search later found a victim by probe line near the one of the flanks of the debris area. A snow groomer was used to excavate 4 more victims, all over 4 meters deep prior to the search being postponed at nightfall. None of the victims were reported as wearing avalanche transceivers.

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