South Asia News
Pakistan army struggles to rescue troops buried by avalanche
Apr 7, 2012, 13:03 GMT
Islamabad - The Pakistani military was struggling to rescue more than 100 trapped soldiers buried by an avalanche Saturday in a disputed Himalayan region.
The soldiers from the Northern Light Infantry trained in high-altitude warfare were hit at about 6:00 am (0100 GMT) near the Siachen glacier, which is claimed by both Pakistan and India.
Army spokesman Major General Athar Abbas said rescue efforts were underway to save 'around 100 persons of the army' who were hit by the avalanche.
'Sniffer dogs, helicopters and troops on the ground are employed in the rescue efforts,' said Abbas. 'Heavy machinery has also been moved from (the garrison city of) Rawalpindi by air.'
Another army official had earlier put the number of trapped troops at 130.
Asked about reports of some bodies being recovered, Abbas told dpa that was 'not true.'
Expressing shock over the incident, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said it 'in no way would undermine the high morale of soldiers and officers,' the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan reported.
At a height of more than 7,000 metres, the Siachen glacier in the Himalayan mountain range, is known as the world's highest battlefield.
Indian and Pakistani troops have been stationed in the inhospitable terrain, where winter temperatures drop to -50 degrees centigrade, since 1984.
They have fought occasional battles, but have lost more men to avalanches and the weather. A ceasefire has been in place since November 2003.
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