Jammu: All the 10 Army personnel including a JCO trapped under a mass of snow after a massive avalanche struck their high-altitude military post yesterday in Siachen Glacier were today feared dead. The news comes over 30 hours after the avalanche in Northern Glacier sector in Ladakh region in the world's highest battlefield hit the post early yesterday.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today mourned the loss of the soldiers buried in snow after defence officials said there was little hope of finding the trapped soldiers and rescuing them.
"Demise of soldiers in Siachen is very tragic. I salute the brave soldiers who gave their lives to the nation. Condolences to their families," PM Modi tweeted.
Defence Minister Manhar Parrikar also mourned the loss of the nine Jawans and one Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO). "My heartfelt condolences to the near and dear ones of our brave soldiers who were martyred in the line of duty in the most difficult terrain of Siachen. It is our duty to take care of their families," said Parrikar.
A statement issued by the Indian Army also saluted the soldiers for their sacrifice. "It is a tragic event and we salute the soldiers who braved all challenges to guard our frontiers and made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty," the Army said in the statement, adding that rescue operations are continuing.
Defence Ministry officials had earlier said that the chances of finding any survivors were very remote despite rescue efforts being scaled up today with the induction of specialised teams, sniffer dogs and equipment.
"Rescue teams are braving adverse weather and effects of rarified atmosphere to locate and rescue survivors. However, it is with deepest of regrets that we have to state that chances of finding any survivors are now very remote," Defence PRO (Northern Command) Col S D Goswami said in a statement.
The deadly avalanche hit the post situated at 19,600 feet in Northern Glacier sector in Ladakh region in the world's highest battlefield yesterday in which a JCO and nine jawans were trapped. The missing personnel were attached to Madras battalion stationed at the post, which is buried under tonnes of snow.
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As the rescue operations by specialized teams of the Army and the Air Force entered the second day today, Col Goswami said specialised equipment was flown to Leh in the morning.
The glaciated area presents temperatures ranging from a minimum of minus 42 degrees Celsius in the night to maximum of minus 25 degrees C during the day, he said. He said that blocks of snow had fallen on the post, burying it very deep.
"To clear the same is a very difficult task", he said, adding that "building on yesterday's efforts, a very large rescue team has been deployed today to reach down till the post".
"The rescue operations have been intensified with induction of specialised teams and equipment to trace the missing Army men", the Defence PRO said.
Heavy snow cutters and special equipment are being used to clear and cut the ice blocks, as Army and IAF teams battle harsh weather conditions and difficult terrain to trace the missing soldiers.
(With PTI inputs)