Pakistan avalanche: All 135 feared dead

2012-04-08 16:31

Islamabad - The Pakistani military 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 05:00 and 06:00 on Saturday - perhaps when some were sleeping - by a mass of snow, stones, mud and slush more than 1 000m wide and 25m 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 area known as the world's highest battlefield, the military said.

Experts familiar with the glacier said there was little hope of finding survivors - the military said overnight that 135 people were missing from the camp, including 124 soldiers from the 6th Northern Light Infantry battalion.

"There is no hope, there is no chance at all," mountaineering expert Colonel Sher Khan told AFP.

"You can survive only in the first 5-10 minutes," said Khan. "The casualties in avalanches occur due to pressure of heavy weight, extreme cold and lack of oxygen."

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



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