|Early Times Report|
Srinagar, Jan 18: Ten persons are feared dead after a snow avalanche buried the two trucks they were travelling in at Khardung La of Ladakh region in Jammu and Kashmir on Friday, officials said.
Bodies of five of the deceased have been recovered so far, while efforts are on to find the remaining five persons, whose chances of survival are bleak, a police official said here.
"The two trucks, carrying 10 civilians, came under an avalanche at Khardungla pass, which is one of the highest motorable roads in the world at 17,500 feet, at 7.00 am," a defence spokesman said.
He said the trucks were buried 20 feet deep under debris, nearly 800 metres from Khardungla Top towards South Pullu.
As soon as the Army detachment at Khardungla Top was alerted about the incident, all resources of the Fire and Fury Corps were activated, the spokesman said.
"Army teams deployed near the incident site swiftly moved in and commenced search and rescue operations. Troops deployed at South Pullu and North Pullu were also moved to the site.
Simultaneously, the Army Aviation helicopters were pressed into service to move the highly trained avalanche rescue teams of the Army -- Avalanche Panthers Teams -- from Siachen Base Camp and North Pullu," he said.
These teams are equipped with specialised avalanche rescue gear, medical equipment and avalanche rescue dogs, which are being utilised in the search operations, he said. The Army Aviation helicopters are conducting the Deep Search Radars which can detect human beings through snow.
Lieutenant General Y K Joshi, GOC Fire and Fury Corps, carried out an aerial assessment of the incident and issued necessary directions for the smooth conduct of the rescue operations.
Governor Satya Pal Malik, National Conference leader Omar Abdullah and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti condoled the loss of life in the accident.
In his message, the governor prayed for eternal peace to the departed souls and strength to the bereaved families in their hour of grief. The governor announced an ex-gratia relief of Rs 5 lakh for the next of kin of those killed in the avalanche.
While condoling the deaths, Omar, in a tweet, said the accident once again highlighted the importance of tunnels and strategically important passes.
He called for tunnels under ZojiLa, KhardungLa, Razdan, Sadna and Sinthan passes, and a tunnel to connect Keran in North Kashmir and under Peer ki galli on the Mughal Road, so as "to stop areas being cut off in winter."
Mehbooba said, "(I am) Saddened to hear about the loss of lives because of the avalanche in Khardungla, Ladakh. Prayers for the families of the departed.