Two avalanches occurred over the weekend in Pakistan-controlled Azad Kashmir. The South Asian News Agency (SANA) reports that on Friday an avalanche occurred which claimed the lives of three individuals. Then while a recovery party consisting of 11 soldiers and 10 civilians entered the area of Dana Tajian to search for victims they managed to trigger the unstable snowpack and were hit by a second surprise avalanche.
As of Monday the death toll is at 12, many of which are soldiers — 3 from the first avalanche and 9 from the second.
The Himalayan zone between India and Pakistan has been the center of a long-standing land dispute between the two nations. Known as the highest battlefield in the world, the disputed mountain region has an incredibly inhospitable climate. Treacherous terrain, frigid temperatures and high winds create a natural stalemate for the opposing forces. Two wars have been fought in this dispute, and while both India and Pakistan lay claim to the mountainous area, a cease-fire has been in effect since 2003.
The region of Azad Kashmir is very prone to avalanches. This past spring, there was an avalanche that hit a Pakistani military base claiming the lives over 140 soldiers.