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Hope fading fast for Pakistan avalanche victims

Pakistan,Crime/Disaster/Accident,Indo-Pak/Pakistan, Mon, 09 Apr 2012 IANS

Islamabad, April 9 (IANS) Rescue workers Monday frantically searched for the 139 soldiers and civilians still trapped under snow after a massive avalanche struck an army camp in the country's northern Siachen glacier two days ago.




None of the trapped people have been found since the Saturday morning tragedy, reported Xinhua.


Army spokesperson Major General Athar Abbas said: "It would be a miracle if any survivor is found."


Media reports said that snowfall started in the region Monday, which is likely to hamper the already unsuccessful search and rescue operation.


An eight-member team of the American experts has also arrived in Pakistan to provide technical assistance in the ongoing rescue operation, the army said.


Discussion will be held with the team to find out possibility and nature of assistance required to rescue the soldiers and civilians buried under snow in Gayari sector, an army statement said.


Media reports also said that Pakistan was mulling seeking technical help from more countries as the rescue operation is becoming more challenging.


Muhammad Hanif, an official with the country's meteorological department, has predicted snowfall in the coming days.


Pakistani TV channels reported that a meeting of top commanders started in the army headquarters in Rawalpindi Monday to discuss the rescue operation in Siachen.


Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani presided over the meeting. The Formation Commanders were briefed on the outcome of the search and rescue operation and they also discussed the US team offer for assistance.


"It is a big challenge and I am confident that the armed forces will meet it," Kayani was quoted as telling the commanders.


President Asif Ali Zardari talked on phone with the commanders monitoring the rescue operation shortly after he returned from his daylong visit to India Sunday, a presidential spokesperson said.


In an effort to boost morale and to personally monitor the rescue operation, Kayani visited Siachen Sunday.


Athar Abbas said the avalanche covered an area of one square kilometer and the army rescuers were cutting the snow from four sides. He said the snow slide is nearly 80-feet (about 24 meters) high.


The avalanche Saturday morning hit a camp of Pakistan army in Siachen, the world's highest battle-ground, where thousands of Pakistani and Indian soldiers perform duties in the harsh cold.



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