AN INDIAN soldier who was buried by an avalanche for six days has been found alive and pulled from the snow, AP reports. Lance Naik Hanamanthappa and nine of his colleagues were trapped when an enormous avalanche slammed into an army post in the Himalayan region of Kashmir last Wednesday.
Rescuers held little hope of finding anybody alive after six days – but Hanamanthappa was found critically ill but still breathing late last night. His nine colleagues were all found dead. The Indian army said after the first day of searching that the chance of finding survivors was “very remote.”
But Hanamanthappa was found buried alive beneath 25 feet of snow, Indian military commander Lt. Gen. D.S. Hooda said. He was unconscious and in a critical condition at the army’s hospital in New Delhi. “We hope the miracle continues,” Hooda said. “Surprisingly, his oxygen levels seemed OK, and his heartbeat was there.” He said it was extremely rare for a person to survive so long buried under snow and ice.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the unconscious soldier in the army hospital today, tweeting that he was bringing “prayers from the entire nation.” Avalanches and landslides are common in Kashmir, which is claimed by both India and Pakistan and divided between them.
Ongoing military patrols at the 19,000-foot-altitude glacier where the avalanche took place are particularly dangerous. In fact more Indian and Pakistani troops have died from the gruelling conditions there than from hostile fire.