Hopes fade for soldiers missing in avalanche

Army has pressed Specialised Avalanche Rescue Teams into service

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A snow-cutter clears the road after heavy snowfall at Poonch

Hopes of finding alive the five soldiers, who went missing following heavy snowfall along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir, are fading as blizzard-like conditions are hampering search and rescue operations.

A search and rescue operations continued for the second day on Wednesday to locate the missing soldiers. "Our search operations are continuing. The soldiers continue to remain missing," said Colonel Rajesh Kalia, defence spokesman at Srinagar.

Snow avalanches had swept away army bunkers at two different places on Tuesday. The first incident had occurred at Kanzalwan sub-sector of Gurez in the LoC when a snow avalanche swept away a high altitude `Mani Post' in Bagtoor area. Three army jawans, who were manning the post were swept away by the avalanche and continue to remain untraceable. The second incident occurred in Naugam sector along the LoC when two soldiers slipped down from high altitude area.

Indian Army has pressed Specialized Avalanche Rescue Teams (ARTs) into service and moved special equipment to the site to trace out the missing soldiers. Specially trained sniffer dogs too have been brought in to help the soldiers in the search and rescue operations. However the rescuers have not got any success to locate the five missing soldiers so far.

Sources said inclement weather and poor visibility in high altitude areas is also hampering the search and rescue operations. Upper reaches and high altitude areas have been receiving heavy snowfall for the last two days.

The fresh tragedy has come 11 months after the army lost 20 soldiers in the snow avalanches in Gurez, Sonamarg and Machil areas in the north and central Kashmir.

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