Seven Army personnel, who were caught in Arunachal avalanche, found dead

All seven Army personnel, who had gone missing after being caught in an avalanche in Arunachal Pradesh on Sunday, have been found dead, the Army said on Tuesday. It added that the bodies are being brought back to the nearest Army facility.

It stated that seven Indian Army personnel, who were part of a patrol team, were struck by an avalanche in the high-altitude area in the Kameng sector of Arunachal Pradesh on February 6, and “search and rescue operations were launched immediately, including airlifting of specialised teams”.

The Army said that the search and rescue operations have “now been concluded” and “bodies of all seven individuals have been recovered from the avalanche site”. Unfortunately, it said, “despite the best efforts of everyone involved, all seven have been confirmed deceased.”

The area is located at an altitude of 14,500 feet, and had been witnessing inclement weather with heavy snowfall since the last few days, said the Army. “The bodies of the soldiers are currently being transferred from the avalanche site to the nearest Army medical facility for further formalities,” it added.

Troops getting caught in an avalanche is not uncommon, and the armed forces have lost personnel to such incidents in the past as well. The last such incident was in May 2020, when two Army personnel, who were part of a patrol-cum-snow clearing party, had died after being caught in an avalanche in Sikkim.

According to the data shared by the government in the Parliament in February 2020, the Army had lost six personnel to avalanches and snow-slides in the Siachen Glacier in 2019, and 11 others in other parts of the country.

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 mountain coping with any eventuality like avalanches” and are also “taught to handle medical emergencies”.

They are “suitably equipped to undertake the operational challenges” and modern equipment like helicopters, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, snow scooters, avalanches detectors, and mountain clothing and equipment are used by them.

The Navy had lost five of its personnel at Mt Trishul, Uttarakhand, in October last year, where they had gone for an expedition.

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