Landslides Kill Three Soldiers, Bury 18 Rescuers

Landslides Kill Three Soldiers, Bury 18 Rescuers

30 November 2012
The Nation


Muzaffarabad: A landslide killed three soldiers in Azad Kashmir Friday, while 18 people sent to rescue them were missing after being buried by a second landslip.A military rescue operation swung into action after heavy snows triggered the two landslides at a remote outpost in the Kel area of Azad Kashmir near Line of Control.The bodies of the three soldiers had been recovered but rescuers were still hunting for the eight soldiers and 10 civilians from the search party, local official Raja Saqib Majeed told AFP.“We hope that rescue workers will find some of them alive. Let’s hope for the best,” he said, but added that efforts were being hampered by continued bad weather.A wall of mud and snow hit the outpost in the early hours, said Majeed, deputy commissioner of Neelam district, of which Kel is part.The 18-strong team was quickly dispatched to search for the soldiers at the outpost, which is 130 kilometres from Muzaffarabad, he said. But he added that “another landslide hit this rescue party and they were buried under it”. Civilian rescuers were bolstering the military’s rescue mission, he said.Local police official Mohammad Musa said there had been heavy snowfall in the past 24 hours in the area and cloud cover remained thick. The military confirmed the accident in a statement: “Three soldiers embraced shahadat (martyrdom). Eight soldiers and 10 civilians are also missing.”In April, 140 soldiers were buried when a huge wall of snow crashed into the remote Siachen Glacier base high in the mountains in Azad Kashmir. They have all been declared dead, although some of the bodies remain buried.That tragedy renewed debate about how much sense it made for a country where millions live below the poverty line to maintain outposts in Siachen, dubbed ‘the world’s highest battleground’, at immense cost when violence had fallen.And in February, at least 16 Indian soldiers on duty in Occupied Kashmir were killed when two avalanches swept through army camps.Kashmir is both claimed by Pakistan and India. A freedom struggle has been going on there for over two decades.India suspended a full peace dialogue with Pakistan following the 2008 attack by gunmen on Mumbai that killed 166 people but warily resumed it early last year.