SRINAGAR/CHENNAI: Even as desperate attempts to recover the bodies of the 10 soldiers who were buried under snow after a massive avalanche hit their post in Siachen three days ago continued for yet another day, the Army on Friday released the names of the Madras Regiment personnel, which included four from Tamil Nadu, three from Karnataka, and one each from Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra.
“More specialised equipment, including heavy snow cutters, have been rushed to Siachen to recover the bodies buried under heavy snow,” said defence sources.
Army’s Northern Command spokesperson Colonel S D Goswami told Express that the rescue operation was going on day and night. “The operation will continue till the bodies of the soldiers are recovered,” he said, adding that all-out efforts were on to rescue the trapped soldiers.
Close relatives of the deceased from Tamil Nadu told Express that the family members were informed by higher officials in the Army that their dear ones were among those trapped under the snow after the avalanche, and had since been glued to TV sets for the past three days.
According to family members of Sepoy Ganesan G from Chokkadevanpatti village in Usilampatti Taluk in Madurai, the 26-year-old had joined the Army six years ago after completing his Class XII. Son of a loadman, Ganapathi, and homemaker mother Ranjitham, Ganesan could not continue his studies due to the family’s financial situation, family members said. Ganapathi told Express that Ganesan had come to his hometown on leave in September last when his parents were searching for a bride for their younger son.
He had spoken to the family on Tuesday last around 4 pm. After that, the family members received a call from an official in Delhi, informing them about the incident.
Since then, there has been no information, said the family, adding that they learnt about the death through media.
At Kumananthozhu village in Theni from where another personnel Lance Havildar S Kumar (36) hailed, the entire neighbourhood has gone quiet since Friday afternoon after his death was confirmed. Relatives told Express that he had called and spoken to his wife Kavitha only on Tuesday, the day before the accident.
Speaking to Express, his father Seeni Thevar recalled how he and his wife Panjammal were initially shocked when Kumar, their eldest son, indicated his desire to join the Army about 16 years ago. However, he added, they soon overcame that and even encouraged him to serve in the Forces.
He had married Kavitha, a matriculation school teacher, nearly a decade ago, and the couple has a son. He last came to the native about six months ago, said relatives.
The family was in panic after coming to know about the incident, and has since been following the news on TV. On Friday, when the identities of those dead came as a flash scroll, Kavitha fainted, said Seeni.
The scenes were similar at the residence of Sepoy N Rama Moorthy (36) in Gudisatana Palli village in Krishnagiri near Karnataka border. The family members were first told about Rama Moorthy being part of the missing 10 on Thursday, and were anxious to know all updates about him since then.
The fourth victim from the State, Havildar Elumalai, originally hailed from Chetpet in Tiruvannamalai before his family moved to Mullai Nagar in Otteri in Vellore about a decade ago. He is married to Jamuna Rani, and the couple have two children. Jamuna Rani said she received a phone call two days ago informing her that Elumalai was caught in the avalanche, adding that the rescue operations were going on. They have been waiting anxiously to hear a good news about him when news came in that the Army itself had lost hope in rescuing them alive.
(inputs from Theni, Madurai, Vellore and T’malai)