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Hopes fade for 135 buried in Siachen avalanche

09 April, 2012

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ISLAMABAD: The army on Sunday dug through snow, boulders and slush in an increasingly desperate search for 135 people buried in an avalanche, as hopes faded of finding any survivors.

Nearly 36 hours after a wall of snow crashed into a remote army camp high up in the mountains of Kashmir, rescuers were yet to recover any survivors or even bodies from the Siachen Glacier, where Pakistani and Indian troops face off.

The camp was engulfed between 5am and 6am on Saturday – perhaps when some were sleeping – by a mass of snow, stones, mud and slush more than 1,000 metres wide and 25 metres high, the military said in a statement.

About 180 military personnel and 60 civilian rescuers were braving freezing temperatures at the inhospitable site close to the de facto border with India, in the area known as the world's highest battlefield, the military said.

The military said overnight that 135 people were missing from the camp, including 124 soldiers from the 6th Northern Light Infantry battalion.

Army chief General Ashfaq Kayani visited the epicentre of the disaster and "supervised rescue operations himself", the military said.

General Kayani instructed the commanders "to optimally utilise all available resources at their disposal and leave no stone unturned to reach out to the entrapped personnel", it said.

End.

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