SRINAGAR: The five Army men, who were rescued from snow in Machil sector close to the Line of Control (LoC) two days back, succumbed to injuries at an Army hospital in Srinagar on Monday, taking the death toll of soldiers killed in avalanches in Kashmir to 20.
“The five Army men, who were rescued on Saturday after being trapped under snow following the caving-in of track in Machil sector in Baramulla district, were evacuated in an Army helicopter to the military hospital in Srinagar this afternoon,” Colonel Rajesh Kalia, defence spokesperson in Srinagar, told Express, adding that unfortunately all the five succumbed to injuries in the hospital.
The five, who were part of a patrol party, had been trapped in snow for more than four hours after the track they were travelling in caved-in in Gurez on Saturday morning. They were rescued by the specially-equipped Avalanche Rescue Teams (ARTs). However, they could not be airlifted for medical treatment for two days as no helicopter sorties could take place due to inclement weather, foggy conditions and persistent snowfall.
Colonel Kalia said Army aviation pilots had made several attempts to evacuate the five soldiers for specialised treatment. On Wednesday last, 14 soldiers were killed after two massive snow avalanches hit an Army post and a patrol party in Gurez sector of North Kashmir’s Bandipora district. Their mortal remains were brought to Srinagar by Air Force helicopters on Monday, said the defence spokesperson, adding that their bodies could not be evacuated earlier because of inclement weather and snowfall in Gurez.
On that day, Army officer Major Amit Sagar was also killed and seven others were rescued after an avalanche hit some Army barracks at Sonamarg in central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district. Five civilians, including four members of a family, were also killed in two separate avalanches in Gurez and Uri in North Kashmir last week. Kashmir has witnessed record snowfall this year.
According to a weather department official, the snowfall this year has broken the record of the last two decades. He said it was the heaviest snowfall recorded in the Valley since 1992. “We had witnessed major snowfall in 1992 and 2006 but the present snowfall has broken the record of last 25 years,” added the official.