ISLAMABAD - An avalanche hit a Pakistani army camp in a remote Himalayan area on the border to India on Saturday, April 7, burying more than 130 soldiers as rescuers rushed to the inhospitable region to look for survivors.
"More than 100 soldiers of NLI (Northern Light Infantry) including a colonel were trapped when the avalanche hit a military camp," army spokesman Major General Athar Abbas told Agence France Presse (AFP).
"The rescue mission is continuing and rescuers are trying to rescue the soldiers."
A Pakistan military statement said the avalanche struck on Saturday morning at around 6 am.
The deadly avalanche engulfed the camp in Gayari, Siachen in the northern part of the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir.
"Around 100 persons of army came under a snow slide early this morning in Gayari sector near Skardu," it said.
"Rescue efforts are on. Sniffing dogs, helicopters and troops on ground are employed on rescue efforts," the statement added.
Following the announcement, troops with sniffer dogs, aided by helicopters, were frantically trying to find signs of survivors in the snow.
A team of doctors and paramedics has also been rushed to the mountainous area, which suffers extreme weather conditions, a security official told AFP.
State-run Pakistan television said rescuers were facing difficulties getting heavy machinery to the far-flung area.
It also said the avalanche hit early in the morning, raising the possibility that soldiers were asleep at the time.
No information was available so far on any possible survivors.
Avalanches and landslides frequently block roads and leave communities isolated in the mountains of Pakistan and Kashmir.
The disputed Kashmir region -- of which Siachen is a part -- is divided into two parts and ruled by India and Pakistan, which have fought two of their three wars since the 1947 independence over the region.
Pakistan and the UN back the right of the Kashmir people for self-determination, an option opposed by New Delhi.
Described as the world's highest battlefield, for two decades India and Pakistan fought at altitudes of over 20,000 feet in minus 60 degrees Celsius temperatures.
Indian and Pakistani forces, estimated to number between 10,000 and 20,000 troops combined, still face off against each other in mountains above the glacier.
The no-man's-land of Siachen is 20,000 feet above sea level.
Siachen is close to four of the world's 14 peaks over 8,000 metres -- K2, Broad Peak, Gasherbrum I and Gasherbrum II -- all of which are on the Pakistani side of the frontline.
Today's avalanche is not the first in the region that bears a history of deadly incidents.
Last February, at least 16 Indian soldiers on duty in the mountains of Kashmir were killed when two avalanches swept through army camps.
Military experts say the inhospitable climate and avalanche-prone terrain have claimed more lives than gunfire.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net