Zardari calls off visit to avalanche site

Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari called off his visit to the avalanche site in Siachen sector due to harsh weather.

Islamabad: Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari on Monday called off his visit to the avalanche site in Siachen sector due to harsh weather even as rescuers backed by Swiss and German teams continued to search for 138 people buried under the snow for over a week.

President Zardari had to call off a planned visit to Gyari today due to unsuitable weather conditions, presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar said.

The President had wanted to go to the Siachen sector to express solidarity with the troops who were hit by the avalanche.

"However, he was advised by the authorities that severe weather conditions in the area were not suitable for travelling," Babar said.

Meanwhile, the Pakistani military said the search operation at Gyari was continuing round the clock "against heavy odds" and amidst "very harsh" weather that was posing serious challenges to men and machines.

The search teams had made controlled use of explosives in digging a tunnel through the compacted snow to reach a building where people were trapped by the avalanche.

Teams of German and Swiss rescuers were helping the troops in analysing data to locate the trapped men.

Last week, a fresh snow-slide had created difficulties for troops conducting the search at Gyari, the location of the battalion headquarters that was buried under 80 feet of snow on April 7.

The military had earlier said that search teams had focussed on six "priority points" and excavated over 100 feet at two points in their search for 127 soldiers of the Northern Light Infantry and 11 civilians who were buried by the avalanche.