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Fri Aug 26 05:19:37 SAST 2016

Indian soldier critical after being trapped by avalanche for six days

REUTERS | 09 February, 2016 08:16
Soldiers search for bodies after a massive avalanche triggered by earthquake. File photo
Image by: HANDOUT / REUTERS

An Indian soldier declared dead has been found alive under 8 metres of snow, six days after he was buried by an avalanche that hit his military post in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir.

Rescue teams dug out Naik Hanamanthappa in one of the world's most unforgiving environments, at an altitude of 19,600 feet (6,000 m) on the Siachen Glacier, which India and Pakistan have fought over intermittently for almost three decades.

"We hope the miracle continues. Pray with us," D.S. Hooda, an Indian army commander, said in a statement on Tuesday.

Hanamanthappa has been rushed to hospital and the army said he remains in a critical condition.

Rescue workers had been searching for almost a week for 10 soldiers who went missing after the avalanche in an area known as the battleground on the roof of the world.

A day after the search began the army said the chances of finding any survivors were "very remote". In its statement on Tuesday, it said all the other soldiers were now believed dead.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called the deaths of the soldiers tragic and offered his condolences to their families.

At the Siachen Glacier in the Karakorum range, thousands of Indian and Pakistani troops contest an area above 20,000 feet (6,096 m) where they must deal with altitude sickness, high winds, frostbite and temperatures as low as minus 60 degrees Celsius (minus 76 degrees Fahrenheit).

The inhospitable climate and avalanche-prone terrain have claimed more lives than gunfire. 

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