Search Continues for Avalanche Survivors in Pakistan

Posted April 10th, 2012 at 6:05 am (UTC-5)
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Hundreds of rescuers continue searching for survivors of last week's massive avalanche that buried at least 135 Pakistani soldiers and civilians at a military base in northern Kashmir.

Pakistan's military says the rescue efforts are being concentrated on five points in the high-altitude Siachen Glacier region, which was pummeled by a 20-meter wall of snow on Saturday.

The military says two of the points are being dug out with bulldozers and other equipment, while workers manually dig at the other three points.

It says over 450 people are involved in the rescue efforts, which have been hampered by poor weather conditions.

Pictures released by the government Tuesday showed the site still completely covered in snow and ice, with no visible signs of the military base.

Rescue workers have not recovered anyone dead or alive three days after the disaster. Experts warn it is unlikely any survivors will be found.

An eight-member team of U.S. military experts arrived in Islamabad to aid in rescue operations, but were unable to travel to the site. U.S. Embassy spokesman Mark Stroh told VOA Washington is ready to do whatever it can to help Pakistan deal with what he called a “horrific incident.”

Pakistan's military said a team of experts from Germany and Switzerland have also arrived in Pakistan to help, but are waiting for weather conditions to improve before heading to the site.

Pakistan and India both claim the glacier, located on the northern tip of the Line of Control — a de facto border that divides Pakistani- and Indian-controlled Kashmir.

Pakistan and India have thousands of troops stationed on either side of Siachen, which has been violently disputed since 1984, when Indian troops seized the heights of the 78-kilometer-long glacier. The region has been calm in the last decade.

Both countries claim the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir in full. Territorial disputes over control of the rugged region have sparked two wars between the nuclear-armed neighbors.