Rescuers Dig for 124 Missing in Pakistani Avalanche

Posted April 7th, 2012 at 4:45 pm (UTC-5)
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Rescuers in Pakistan are racing against time searching for at least 124 people missing since a massive avalanche engulfed a high-altitude military base near the Indian border early Saturday.

Pakistan's military said the wall of snow hit the Siachen Glacier region in northern Kashmir, known as the world's highest battlefield. Both Pakistan and India have military outposts there.

Officials said helicopters, search dogs, and troops, along with doctors and paramedics, were deployed to the remote 6,000 meter peak to search for survivors.

Pakistan's High Commissioner in Britain, Wajid Shamsul Hasan, said about 150 people were in the military base at a time of the avalanche. The base is located in a high risk area where the inhospitable climate and avalanche-prone terrain have claimed more lives than gunfire.

The snowslide hit on the eve of a scheduled meeting between Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Sunday. It will be the first visit to India by a Pakistani head of state since 2005.

Pakistan and India each have thousands of troops stationed in Kashmir, which both nations claim in full. Territorial disputes over control of the rugged, mountainous region have sparked two wars between the nuclear-armed neighbors.

Since 1984, there had been skirmishes along the border until both sides agreed to a cease-fire in 2003.