Kashmir avalanche: Up to 138 feared dead on Siachen
Kashmir avalanche: Up to 138 feared dead on Siachen

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01:00 Apr 8 2012 Siachen, Himalaya, Pakistan

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Spokesman Maj Gen Athar Abbas told the BBC 125 Pakistani soldiers and 15 civilians were missing after 21m (70ft) of snow engulfed a military camp near the Siachen Glacier on Saturday.

He had earlier said that 100 soldiers and 11 civilians were missing.

Rescuers have yet to find any survivors.

Maj Gen Abbas told the BBC's Orla Guerin, in the Pakistani capital Islamabad, that the avalanche had covered an area of 1 sq km (0.39 sq m).

Sniffer dogs
The search was called off late on Saturday due to darkness and poor weather, but is set to resume early on Sunday.
Hundreds of troops, plus sniffer dogs and helicopters are involved in the rescue operation.

In a statement, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani expressed shock at the disaster, but said it "in no way would undermine the high morale of soldiers and officers."

The camp, located 15,000ft (4,572 m) above sea level in Kashmir's Gayari district, near the border with India, was engulfed by snow at around 06:00 local time (01:00 GMT).

Maj Gen Abbas earlier described the avalanche as "very massive".

He also warned it could take several days to complete the rescue operation, which was unprecedented in scale for such a location, where temperatures can plunge to minus 70 Celsius.

'Prone to avalanches'
As of yet, there has been no communication with any of the missing soldiers, who were from the Northern Light Infantry regiment, which is trained in mountain operations.

The region is prone to avalanches, the major general said, although they typically occur in "forward bases" at higher altitude, where only 10 or 20 troops are located.

One officer who had been stationed at the base in 2003 said he could not "comprehend how an avalanche can reach that place".


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