Pak avalanche `won’t undermine morale of soldiers`

A massive avalanche smashed into a key Pakistani Army camp in the Siachen sector along Indian border, burying over 100 soldiers.

Zeenews Bureau

Islamabad: A massive avalanche smashed into a key Pakistani Army camp in the Siachen sector along the Indian border on Saturday, burying more than 100 soldiers under the snow.

Troops, aided by helicopters, bulldozers and sniffer dogs, were frantically trying to search any survivors in the snow after the avalanche hit the remote camp in mountainous Gayari region in Siachen at around 6 am local time.

In a statement, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani expressed his shock at the incident, which he said "would in no way undermine the high morale of soldiers and officers".

A team of doctors and paramedics has also been rushed to the high-altitude region.

"It`s a very massive scale slide," chief military spokesman Maj Gen Athar Abbas was quoted as saying by media. "They are under the slide but we haven`t lost hope. The rescue work is on, and we are keeping our fingers crossed."

He said more than 100 soldiers of the Northern Light Infantry were trapped when the avalanche hit the military camp.

A military statement said that helicopters, sniffer dogs and additional troops had been sent to the area to help with the rescue in the desolate region.

The incident occurred at a spot near Skardu in the eastern Karakoram mountain range.

Some reports had suggested that 135 soldiers, including a Colonel, had been hit by the avalanche. There were reports of casualties but these could not be independently confirmed. Gayari is home to an important battalion headquarters and at one time, up to 3,000 soldiers were based in the area.

Following the ceasefire along the frontiers in Jammu and Kashmir, both India and Pakistan reduced troop levels.

The Siachen glacier is known as the world`s highest and coldest battlefield. More Indian and Pakistani soldiers have been killed by adverse weather than combat in the sector.

(With PTI inputs)

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