SKARDU / ISLAMABAD: Braving harsh weather, rescuers searching for 138 people buried by an avalanche at an army camp in Gyari sector of Siachen glacier prepared to start work on Thursday on a 40-metre horizontal tunnel to reach its accommodation area after mechanical excavators dug down through 35 metres of snow.
As the meteorological department forecast more snowfall in the area, a statement issued by the military said the weather continued to be “harsh and unfriendly”, posing operational and administrative difficulties for both men and machines busy in the rescue operation. A sixth priority point was added to the search and rescue work.
The diameter of the planned tunnel to attain access to the accommodation area would be three metres, the Inter-Services Public Relations press release said.
At another point, excavation work had gone down to 30 metres, it said, adding that 15 heavy machines, including dumpers, dozers, excavators and loaders, were working at the site.
A 450-metre access track has been developed and ‘subgrade’ added to improve traction for wheeled plant equipment on the avalanche to access the priority points. Work has also been carried out to increase the total length of the two main access tracks to 1.5km.
More than 450 rescuers are working in sub-zero temperatures, although experts have said there is virtually no chance of finding any survivors.
Military photographs showed diggers and rescuers at work on an almost featureless expanse of dirty grey snow and ice with no trace visible of the camp that had been the 6th Northern Light Infantry headquarters.—Agencies