Siachen avalanche survivor passes away
Lance Naik Hanamanthappa, the sole survivor of the avalanche that hit the Siachen glacier, passed away at the army hospital, four days after he was discovered alive under 35 feet of snow. An army bulletin earlier in the day said he had pneumonia in both lungs and was suffering from liver and kidney dysfunction. He is survived by his wife and two-year-old daughter.
Siachen is the "world's highest active battlefield", disputed by India and Pakistan since 1984. The Northern Glacier is one of the most dangerous terrains, scaling to almost 22,000-feet where India's Bana post is located. The post maintained by the Indian Army has claimed many lives. 3/4 of the deaths have been caused by the oppressive climatic conditions, with temperatures dropping to minus 60degree Celsius.
The Siachen dispute has claimed the lives of 900 Indian soldiers since April 1984 when India launched 'Operation Meghdhoot' to pre-empt Pakistan's 'Operation Ababeel' aimed at occupying the battlefield.
The Indian Army has invested massive amounts to obtain high-quality equipment to negate casualties. This involves streamlined schemes for better acclimatisation and intrinsic training which has lessened the number of casualties. Military administrators claim that on an average India contributes Rs.5 crore a day for "maintaining troops on the glacier." However, they maintain that even these measures cannot guarantee 100% safety.
Indian Army generally deploys soldiers at the Northern Glacier for not more than 3 months. However, for tougher posts like the Bana post, soldier deployments are restricted to 30 days. A unit of the Snow Avalanche Study Establishment (SASE) in Jammu and Kashmir is also stationed to issue warnings to these units stationed along the Line Of Control and Siachen, most pertaining to avalanches.
In a freak accident,1 junior commissioned officer (JCO) alongside 9 jawans were trapped after an avalanche hit their post in Siachen. The men hailed from Indian Army's 19 Madras battalion. The Army and Air Force have begun the rescue operation and the Ministry of Defence Northern Command spokesperson S D Goswami said that the rescue mission was being closely observed from Leh and Udhampur.
An avalanche usually takes place due to pile-up of snow and the morning sunlight acts as a catalyst. Other than that, when the inclination of the collected snow becomes between 60-80 degrees, the imbalance leads to an avalanche.
One day after 10 Indian soldiers went missing, due to being hit by an avalanche, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said that the chances of locating any survivors were very slight. The MoD spokesperson said that "specialised equipment was flown into Leh" to further boost the rescue operations. However, so far there was no sign of the soldiers from the Madras Regiment.
Defence PRO (Northern Command), Col SD Goswami confirmed that all 10 soldiers who were trapped in an avalanche in Siachen have died. PM Modi expressed his condolences for the soldiers who lost their lives and tweeted, "I salute the brave soldiers who gave their lives to the nation." The army stated that it has dispatched teams to recover their remains.
The Siachen avalanche tragedy triggered the debate on whether India and Pakistan should demilitarize the Siachen, replacing army deployment with verifiable technological solutions. However, speaking on the issue, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said that though the deaths on the Siachen glacier were "painful", departing soldiers from there was not an option. He said that the demilitarization solution "is not a proper analysis".
An army jawan was miraculously found alive six days after being buried under 25 feet of snow following the February 3 avalanche on the Siachen glacier. Army Commander Northern Command Lt. Gen. D.S. Hooda said, "Lance Naik Hanamanthappa has been found alive." The army established camp at the location "to coordinate the rescue efforts as well as to continue vigil in the sensitive area".