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Six Indian soldiers killed in Siachen avalanche

Last updated on: December 16, 2012 20:35 IST

Six Indian soldiers were killed and one went missing in an avalanche in the Siachen Glacier area on Sunday.

The avalanche struck an army post of the Assam Regiment at Hanief sector in Turtuk, Siachen on Sunday at 6.15 am.   

The region had been receiving extremely heavy snowfall since a few days.

"Six jawans were killed and one went missing from the army's 1 Assam Regiment when they were buried under an avalanche in Sub-Sector Hanif, Turtuk area of the Siachen Glacier," the defence spokesman said on Sunday evening.
 
Giving details of the incident, Srinagar-based defence spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel J S Brar said, "At 6.15 am today, our posts at a height of over 17,000 feet came under an avalanche in Sub-Sector Hanif in Turtuk area of Siachen. Immediately, Avalanche Rescue Teams along with Avalanche Rescue Dogs were launched. Six jawans have, unfortunately, lost their lives. Their mortal remains have been recovered. One jawan is still missing. Unfortunately, the rescue had to be halted due to adverse weather conditions."

This is the first time in several years that an avalanche has hit an Indian position in the glacier area, sources said.

The Assam unit is part of the 102 Siachen Brigade and is located at altitudes of around 15-16,000 feet, they said.

An avalanche had hit a Pakistani Army camp in the glacier area last year, killing over 100 troops.

India has deployed its troops in Siachen for close to 30 years now. It has lost more people to the weather and terrain than to enemy bullets.

However, it has brought down such casualties to a large extent by ensuring proper adaptation of the personnel to the conditions and through extensive scientific research by the Defence Research and Development Organisation to improve living conditions of jawans there.

India and Pakistan, which have held several rounds of talks to resolve the Siachen issue, were close to an agreement a few years back on demilitarising the region. But the accord failed to see the light of the day as Pakistan refused to authenticate its military position.

Pakistan Army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani had recently said that India had hardened its position on the Siachen issue as compared to the 1989 stance it had adopted, adding that it "takes two hands to clap".

Army Chief General Bikram Singh has made it clear that the Indian military would not like to move out of the "strategically important" icy heights, for which a "lot of blood has been shed".

He has said the army has conveyed its views to the government, which has to take a final decision in that regard.

Additional inputs from PTI

Mukhtar Ahmad In Srinagar