Siachen Glacier Avalanche Tragedy – 150 Pakistani Soldiers dead
Skardu (April 7, 2012) – An avalanche buried over hundred Pakistani soldiers on a major army base on a Himalayan glacier close to India on Saturday, military officials said.
It is a tragedy, said Major Gen. Athar Abbas, a military spokesman in Islamabad.
According to details, the snow hit a battalion headquarters in the Gayari sector at 5:45 a.m. The death toll was not immediately known. Officials said rescue efforts were underway with tracking dogs, helicopters and snowmobiles.
It is feared that maybe it will become one of the major incidents of weather-related disasters in the remote, frigid region, Abbas said.
That part of the disputed Kashmir region is often called the world’s highest battlefield. Hundreds of Pakistani and Indian troops are based at elevations of up to 22,000 feet.
Siachen, at about 18,000 feet, sits at northern tip of Kashmir, which both India and Pakistan claim as their territory.
More soldiers have died because of harsh weather at the Pakistani outpost than in combat.
India and Pakistan have fought intermittently at Siachen since 1984. Both countries maintain a permanent military presence there. A cease-fire went into effect in 2003.
Before then, more than 2,000 Pakistani and Indian troops died in the inhospitable terrain, mostly because of avalanches, frostbite and other weather hazards.
Together, the nations have about 150 manned outposts along the glacier, with some 3,000 troops each. Officials estimate that the cost of maintaining the outposts is $200 million for Pakistan and $300 million for India.