Army: Operations underway to rescue seven troops caught in Arunachal avalanche

Rescue teams are looking for seven personnel of the Indian Army, who have gone missing after an avalanche struck Arunachal Pradesh’s Kameng sector on Sunday, the force said on Monday.

The Army said that seven personnel “part of a patrol are reported to have been struck by an avalanche in the high-altitude area of the Kameng sector”. “Search and rescue operations are currently underway. Specialised teams have been airlifted to assist in rescue operations,” it said.

The Army also said the area had been witnessing inclement weather with heavy snowfall for the past few days.

Patrolling in high-altitude areas in the winter months can be tricky, and the Army has lost soldiers in such incidents earlier. In May 2020, two Army soldiers who were part of a patrol-cum-snow-clearing party died after they were caught in an avalanche in Sikkim.

In October last year five Navy personnel were caught in an avalanche on Mt Trishul in Uttarakhand, where they had gone for an expedition. Their remains were recovered later. In February 2020, the government informed Parliament that six Army personnel had died due to avalanches and snow-slides in the Siachen Glacier in 2019, while 11 others were killed in similar incidents elsewhere.

The government had said that all armed forces personnel inducted into “high-altitude regions are provided adequate training in mountain craft, ice craft and survival in glaciated terrain in mountains, and in coping with any eventuality like avalanches” and that they are also “taught to handle medical emergencies”.

They are “suitably equipped to undertake the operational challenges” and use modern equipment like helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles, snow scooters, avalanche detectors, and mountain clothing.

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