Pak steps up efforts to search avalanche survivors
Search and rescue teams using bulldozers and heavy machinery have cleared a 450-metre access track to five "priority points" where the people could be buried, a military statement said. These priority points were identified by a team from the Strategic Plans Division, an elite nuclear formation equipped with sophisticated gadgets.
The rescue operation at Gyari in Siachen sector was continuing despite "weather hazards", the statement said. Rescue teams were working on a second access track so that they could widen the search perimeter. Work at two priority points is progressing at "rapid speed" because of the use of heavy machinery.
Work at the three other priority points is "mainly being done" by infantry troops, who are manually digging through the snow, the military said. A bulldozer was being used to restore a water channel that was blocked by the avalanche four days ago.
The Met Office has forcast snowfall over Siachen and surrounding areas till tomorrow and officials have said they expect the weather to clear by the afternoon of Thursday. Flights to Skardu, the town closest to Gyari, have been unable to take off due to bad weather.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had to call off his plan to visit Gyari on Tuesday due to bad weather, officials said. The premier had intended to visit the region to express solidarity with the troops. He was advised by authorities not to travel due to the inclement weather, officials said. The military has said a total of 138 people, including 127 soldiers and 11 civilian employees, were buried when the avalanche hit a battalion headquarters at Gyari.