NEW DELHI: Lieutenant General Syed Ata Hasnain (Retired) on Tuesday expressed his happiness over the recovery of an army soldier, Lance Naik Hanamanthappa Koppad, who was buried under 25 feet of snow at the Siachen Glacier, in temperatures close to minus 40 degrees, adding that his survival for five days was indeed a miracle.
“I have known cases up to a day or two days where people have survived through these air pockets, but five days is indeed a miracle. I am sure it’s not only the Indian Army and Indian people, but I think the world community needs to pray for a miracle to ensure that this soldier survives,” Lieutenant General Hasnain (Retired) told ANI.
“Our men are trained to look for air pockets. They are taught how to clearly clear the snow near nose and mouth, so that they can keep breathing,” he added.
Pointing out that the soldier is breathing, Lieutenant General Hasnain (Retired) said he is being brought to the RR hospital in Delhi and the Army Medical core is adept to this.
“They have the best doctors in high altitude medicine, I am sure they will attempt to make sure that he survives this very traumatic experience,” he added.
Lieutenant General Hasnain (Retired) further added that when avalanches occur they don’t give time to react, it’s in snap of the moment that this happens; the snow comes cascading down from ice walls and in minutes it engulfs the habitat.
“In this case there were ten men living at a height of 19,000 feet. It was a small little base for sending the logistics to a higher base (a place called Bana) and when the whole ice wall had collapsed on them, the men would have been buried under 25-30 feet of snow, but structural items would have snapped and perhaps helped in making air pockets under the snow,” he added.
Late last night, a rescue team that had been chipping away at ice for days, found him and was astonished to feel a faint pulse.
After an avalanche on February 3, Lance Naik Hanamanthappa and nine other soldiers were buried deep under the snow. A wall of ice, a kilometer wide and 800 metres high, came crashing down on their post.
Lance Naik Hanamanthappa was trapped in an air bubble, which saved his life. He is stable and is being brought to the Army Research and Referral Hospital in Delhi.