Siachen, India (BBN)-Siachen army soldier who survived a deadly avalanche last week at the world’s highest battlefield Siachen, is stable and being treated at a hospital in Delhi.
For six days, Lance Naik Hanamanthappa Koppad was buried under 25 feet of ice in temperatures close to minus 40 degrees, reports NDTV.
Late last night, a rescue team that had been chipping away at ice for days, found him in an “arctic tent” and was astonished to feel a faint pulse.
He was put on a rescue chopper that took off from the highest helipad on earth on the Saltoro ridge of Siachen.
The jawan was buried deep after a wall of ice a kilometer wide and 800 metres high came crashing down on his army post, killing nine of his colleagues.
Severely dehydrated and stiff, Hanamanthappa drifted in and out of consciousness as a doctor revived him last night.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who visited him at the Army Research and Referral hospital in Delhi, tweeted: “No words are enough to describe the endurance & indomitable spirit of Lance Naik Hanumanthappa. He is an outstanding soldier.”
Finding the soldier was “nothing short of a miracle”, Lieutenant General SK Patyal told NDTV.
“A wall of snow as thick and hard as concrete had fallen on them. The operation was extremely difficult,” he said. The rescue team could not work more than 30 minutes at a time.
The army had all but lost hope of finding anyone, dead or alive, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi also tweeted: “I salute the brave soldiers who gave their lives to the nation. Condolences to their families.”
Five bodies have also been found after some 300 sorties and an intense search at a height of nearly 20,000 feet, where it is difficult to breathe, let alone dig.
The rescue, involving heavy equipment that had to be assembled at the top, and dogs, became particularly challenging because the snow had turned into hard chunks of ice.
In temperatures between minus 40 and 25 degrees, rescue teams had to battle frequent blizzards and work through low visibility.
Four more soldiers are still missing.
The Siachen Glacier located at the northern tip of Kashmir is the world’s highest and coldest battlefield.
More soldiers have died here because of the weather and difficult terrain than in battle.
At least 869 officers and soldiers have been killed there since the mid-1980s.