NEW DELHI: As the nation prays for Lance Naik Hanamanthappa Koppad who survived after being snowed in 25 feet below the surface for six days after an avalanche hit the Army base in Siachen, his miraculous survival and rescue has left many experts perplexed.
According to Army sources, here is how the rescue team reached Hanamanthappa:
- On February 3, an 800ft by 400ft ice wall broke off and covered an Army Post located under tones of ice debris at 19500 feet in the Northern Glacier in Siachen, Jammy and Kashmir.
- The ice debris covered an area of 800x1000 metres with a depth of 25 to 30 feet. Massive ice boulders, some the size of a Small Room had covered the post.
- The rescue teams had the arduous tasks of breaking through 25-30 ft of blue ice which is harder than concrete and physically chopped off the ice blocks inch by inch.
- Approximately over 150 trained and acclimatized Army troops including specialized teams trained in glaciated terrain were moved into the avalanche site and round the clock rescue operations were carried out despite extreme weather conditions, where day temperatures were at an average of -30 degree centigrade and night temperatures were below -55 degree centigrade.
- Medical teams and equipment were also moved and a medical aid post was established to provide emergency medical cover at the rescue location. Specialized rescue dogs were also pushed into service.
- Specialized digging and boring equipment, like Rock Drills, Electrical Saws and earth augurs were flown in. In addition, deep penetration radars capable of detecting metallic objects and heat signatures at a depth of 20 meters and radio signal detectors were also flown in using Air Force fixed wing aircrafts and Army Aviation helicopters.
- In spite of adverse weather conditions and poor visibility, the Army aviation helicopters were employed continuously for ferrying troops and rescue material and stores for the search operations.
- Using the specialized equipment the rescue teams were able to identify locations, where digging were carried out, however, rescue efforts were frequently hampered by high intensity winds and blizzards.
- By February eight the rescue teams were able to reach the location of the buried habitat and Hanamanthappa was recovered alive. The nine mortal remains of the other soldiers who were also snowed in were extricated from the avalanche site.
- On recovery, he was found to be conscious but drowsy and disoriented. He was severely dehydrated, hypothermic, hypoxic, hypoglycaemic and in shock. He was immediately resuscitated by the doctors at the site, who had been there for the past 5 days in the hope of a survivor.
- He was treated with warm intravenous fluids, humidified warm oxygen and passive external re-warming. He was flown out from the site on February 9 by helicopter along with a Medical Specialist to the Siachen base camp, from where he to Partapur Military Hospital and later flown by C-17 fixed wing aircraft to Research & Referral hospital, New Delhi.
Meanwhile, Koppad remains extremely critical and is expected to have a stormy course in the next 24 to 48 hours due to the complications caused by re-warming and establishment of blood flow to the cold parts of the body.
Fortunately, there was no cold exposure-related frost bite or bony injuries to him, a medical bulletin issued by the hospital said.
"He has been placed on a ventilator to protect his airway and lungs in view of his comatose state. He remains extremely critical and is expected to have a stormy course in the next 24 to 48 hrs due to the complications caused by re-warming and establishment of blood flow to the cold parts of the body," a medical bulletin issued by the Army Hospital Research and Referral said.