Indian soldier survives deadly Himalayan avalanche | News | DW | 09.02.2016
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Indian soldier survives deadly Himalayan avalanche

An Indian soldier has survived six days under deep snow in what rescuers called a "miracle." India and Pakistan both station thousands in the unforgiving Himalayas, dubbed "the world's highest battlefield."

Rescue teams pulled out an Indian soldier believed to be dead after an avalanche struck the serviceman's outpost at the Siachen Glacier in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir.

Soldier Naik Hanamanthappa was found buried under 8 meters (26 feet) of rock-solid snow on Monday at an altitude of 6,000 meters (19,685 feet).

The rescuers faced brutal weather while attempting to locate the 10 soldiers who were trapped beneath the snow following the avalanche.

"The effort went on day and night, except during two nights when blizzards hit the area," General D.S. Hooda, who heads the Indian Army's northern command, told the AFP news agency.

"In the end, the whole effort paid off as a miracle when a survivor was pulled out. He is now being treated at a military hospital in Delhi," Hooda added.

The Indian Army said Hanamanthappa was in critical condition, but his vital signs were stable.

In a tweet, Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar offered his support to Hanamanthappa days after expressing condolences for the "brave soldiers martyred in the line of duty in the most difficult terrain of Siachen."

Nine of the soldiers' bodies were also recovered during the rescue operation.

India and Pakistan are estimated to deploy roughly 3,000 troops each at the Siachen Glacier, which straddles the border between India and Pakistan.

Some 8,000 soldiers have died in the contested area since 1984, nearly all of them from avalanches, landslides, frostbite, altitude sickness or heart failure.

In 2012, 140 people were killed in an avalanche on the Pakistan-controlled side of the glacier, including 129 Pakistani soldiers.

ls/msh (Reuters, AP, AFP, PTI)