An avalanche has smashed into a Pakistani military base on a Himalayan glacier along the India border, burying more than 100 soldiers. Pakistan’s military says the avalanche hit the base Saturday morning in the high-altitude Siachen Glacier region of northern Kashmir.
More than 12 hours after the disaster at the entrance to the Siachen Glacier, no survivors had been found. The soldiers are from the Northern Light Infantry regiment. They are trained in mountain operations, including avalanche rescue.
“We are waiting for news and keeping our fingers crossed,” said army spokesman Maj. Gen. 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 around 80 feet of snow, Abbas said. A team of doctors and paramedics has also been rushed to the mountainous area, which suffers extreme weather conditions.
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 cease fire in 2003. The glacier is known as the world’s highest battlefield.
“The numbers involved in this incident were so high because avalanches were not expected in the immediate area of the camp that was struck,” Abbas stated.
More soldiers have died from the weather than combat on the glacier, which was uninhabited before troops moved there.
In 2012, an avalanche killed 24 Pakistani troops. That was believed to be the heaviest loss of life in a previous such incident until now.