Khardung La avalanche: Rescue operation continues to recover 3 more missing persons

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Srinagar, Jan 20:  A massive rescue operation resumed on Sunday at Khardung La pass, the world’s highest motorable road in Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir, to recover the bodies of three more missing persons.
So far bodies of seven labourers were recovered. Ten persons, mostly labourers from Zanaskar, were buried alive under over 20 feet of snow when they were loading snow on two trucks for making a helipad for a private company on Friday morning.
A senior police officer at Leh said so far no FIR has been lodged. However, he said, investigation has been taken up.
He said so far bodies of seven people  have been recovered  and searches for remaining three was going on when the reports last came in despite below freezing temperature.
“The operation was suspended last night due to severe chilly weather and resumed today again,” he said.
He said the deceased were residents of Zanaskar who were hired by a company to bring snow from Khardung La pass for making a helipad for trial landing of helicopter. “We are investigation into the incident and FIR will be lodge later,” he said.
He said the bodies are being airlifted to Leh and later to Zanaskar.
Meanwhile, the Meteorological department has issued a fresh warning of moderate to heavy snowfall in Jammu and Kashmir, including Ladakh, during the next four days till Wednesday.
A Defence Ministry spokesman giving details about the incident said that two civilian trucks carrying 10 civilians were buried under an avalanche of about 20 feet depth, approx 800 metres from Khardungla Top towards South Pullu on Friday morning.
He said the message of this unfortunate incident was given to the Army detachment at Khardungla Top at about 0745 hrs by the two civilian drivers.
He said immediately on receipt of this information all resources of the Fire & Fury Corps were activated. Army teams deployed near the incident site swiftly moved and commenced the search & rescue operations. Troops deployed at South Pullu & North Pullu were also moved to the incident site.
Simultaneously, the Army Aviation helicopters were pressed into action to move the highly trained avalanche rescue teams of the Army called “Avalanche Panthers Teams” from Siachen Base Camp and North Pullu.
These teams are equipped with specialised avalanche rescue equipment, medical equipment and avalanche rescue dogs, which are being utilised in the search and rescue operations.
Army Aviation helicopters were also used to move the Deep Search Radars which can detect human beings through snow. Medical teams alongwith doctors and nursing assistants, heating blankets, medical equipment and warm clothing were moved to the avalanche site from the Army Hospital at Hunder.
He said Lt General YK Joshi, GOC Fire & Fury Corps personally carried out an aerial assessment of the incident and issued necessary directions for the smooth conduct of the rescue operations.
The rescue operations are still in progress, he said adding since the Run Out Zone of the avalanche is about 1100 metres down the steep hill side the operations may take some time.
GOC, Fire & Fury Corps has assured the civil administration of complete support during the rescue operation, he said.

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