This ad will auto close in 10 seconds

Desolation of Pakistan avalanche site

Last Updated: Friday, April 20, 2012 - 11:13

Gayari Camp: Half a dozen tattered yellow flags poke from a huge boulder-strewn expanse of gravel and ice. They mark where the buildings of Pakistan`s Gayari Army base once stood.

In the early hours of April 07, thousands of tonnes of ice, rock and snow crashed down onto the camp, the battalion headquarters of the 6th Northern Light Infantry 4,000 metres (13,000 feet) up in the mountains of Kashmir.

The disaster that entombed 140 people has been described as an avalanche, but the dense, rocky rubble that now covers the camp to a depth of around 60 metres (200 feet) looks more like the aftermath of a landslide.

The Pakistan Army has been searching for the 129 soldiers and 11 civilians buried at the remote Gayari site for nearly two weeks and they insist they have not yet given up hope of finding survivors.

But it is almost impossible to imagine anyone surviving even the initial impact of such a weight of rock and ice -- one of the boulders carried down the mountainside onto the site measures at least 30 metres across and 20 metres high.

Yet the search goes on, with bulldozers and mechanical excavators -- looking like children`s toys against the immense mountains -- ploughing through the debris.

Faced with the featureless expanse of ice and rock more than a square kilometre in area, search teams used army records to work out where camp buildings stood, marking them with yellow flags, to concentrate their efforts there.

Brigadier Saqib Mahmood Malik, the Siachen brigade commander, said his soldiers were desperate to help their comrades.

"We don`t need morale or motivation. Merely that our colleagues are under it -- that is the source of motivation to get them out. I really don`t have to push my men to do this job," he said.

Gayari sits just below the Siachen Glacier, known as the "world`s highest battlefield", where Pakistani and Indian troops have faced off in unimaginably harsh conditions since the 1980s. (AFP)


First Published: Friday, April 20, 2012 - 11:13
comments powered by Disqus