As many as 21 people, including 15 soldiers, have been killed since last week because of avalanches.
New Delhi: Global warming and heavy shelling by Pakistani troops are triggering avalanches in Jammu and Kashmir that have claimed the lives of 15 Armymen since last week, Army Chief General Bipin Rawat said on Sunday.
“Ceasefire violations and use of heavy weapons by Pakistani troops are leading to loosening of soil. When there is a heavy snowfall on such a loose soil and if there is a slope, it triggers danger of an avalanche,” he told reporters after paying homage to Major Amit Sagar, who lost his life in an avalanche in Sonamarg on January 25.
He added that avalanches were being reported from areas which in the past did not have so many incidents.
“Global warming is also leading to cracks in glaciers… There are avalanches in areas which had not reported such cases earlier. Avalanches have occurred in Dawar areas, Machil sectors,” Gen. Rawat said.
As many as 21 people, including 15 soldiers, have been killed since last week because of avalanches and snowfall-related incidents in the Kashmir Valley.
Gen. Rawat said Jammu and Kashmir has been witnessing heavy snowfall over the past 72 hours, and is likely to record similar conditions for the next two-three days.
The Army, he said, has been taking help of the Snow and Avalanche Study Establishment, a laboratory under the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), to map avalanche-prone areas.
The Army withdraws troops from places at risk of avalanches, but that cannot be always done in positions vulnerable to insurgency.
“In the weather that is prevailing in Jammu and Kashmir, the soldiers have been deployed to counter the terrorists and infiltrators. They are doing their duty despite the adverse conditions,” Gen. Rawat said.
“Major Amit Sagar is an example. He volunteered to serve in the area knowing the difficult conditions,” he added.
The Army Chief said that the bodies of the martyred soldiers are still in Jammu and Kashmir because of the weather conditions, but all efforts are being made to bring them down.
“I want to assure the families of soldiers affected by the avalanche in Jammu and Kashmir that we are with them,” Gen. Rawat said. “Weather is playing a spoilsport in bringing back the bodies of their dear ones,” he added.
Bullet with turn
On February 3, 2016, 10 soldiers from the Madras Regiment’s 19 Battalion went missing in Siachen after an avalanche. Lance Naik Hanumanthappa, 33, was dug out from 30-feet deep snow after he miraculously survived for five days. He later succumbed to his injuries.
In January 2016, four soldiers lost their lives after being hit by an avalanche in Siachen.
In one of the most devastating avalanches, about 135 Pakistani soldiers died after being buried under tonnes of snow when an avalanche hit them near Siachen in April 2012.