Rescuers Find More Bodies In Azad Kashmir Landslides

Rescuers Find More Bodies In Azad Kashmir Landslides

2 December 2012
AFP


Muzaffarabad: Rescuers have found three more bodies after landslides in Azad Jammu and Kashmir, officials said Sunday, taking the confirmed death toll to 15, with three people still missing. A military and civilian rescue operation was launched after heavy snows on Friday triggered two landslides at a remote outpost in the Kel area of the disputed territory near the de facto border with India. “Despite bad weather and heavy snowfall rescuers found three more bodies yesterday (Saturday) and are searching for three more who are still missing,” local administration official Raja Saqib Muneer told AFP. “So far 15 bodies have been recovered, including nine soldiers and six civilians.” Disputed Kashmir has been the cause of two of the three wars between India and Pakistan since their independence from Britain in 1947. But with separatist violence having dropped sharply following the start of a peace process in 2004, the greatest dangers facing soldiers stationed at remote outposts are often landslides and extreme weather conditions. In April, 140 Pakistani soldiers were buried when a huge wall of snow crashed into the remote Siachen Glacier base high in the mountains in 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 decreased. And in February, at least 16 Indian soldiers on duty in the mountains of Kashmir were killed when two avalanches swept through army camps. In Friday’s accident, a wall of mud and snow hit the outpost in the early hours. An 18-strong team was quickly dispatched to search for the soldiers at the outpost, which is 130 kilometres from Azad Jammu and Kashmir’s main town of Muzaffarabad.