Seven soldiers are missing after their patrol along the border was hit by an avalanche in the West Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh. “Search and rescue operations are currently under way in the high-altitude area. Specialised avalanche rescue teams with equipment have been airlifted to assist in the operations,” an Army officer said.
“There has been no trace of the missing soldiers, who were being led by a NCO (non-commissioned officer), till now. The area has been witnessing inclement weather with heavy snowfall over the last few days,” he added.
The Army often suffers casualties due to its soldiers being deployed in large numbers in avalanche-prone areas along the unresolved borders with China and Pakistan, including eastern Ladakh and the Siachen Glacier-Saltoro Ridge region. Two soldiers from the Punjab Regiment, for instance, had died in an avalanche in sub-sector Haneef of the Siachen region in April last year. Over 1,000 Indian soldiers, including over 35 officers, have lost their lives in the Siachen Glacier Saltoro Ridge region since April 1984, with around three-fourths of these casualties being caused by the severe terrain and climatic conditions there rather than enemy fire. Ary officers say soldiers deployed in high-altitude regions are given prior training in mountain craft, ice craft and survival to cope with any eventuality like avalanches, but sometimes it becomes impossible to fight nature.