Pak to dig 130-foot tunnel to rescue buried soldiers

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Islamabad, Apr 12: Pakistani troops are set to dig a 130-foot tunnel in their search for 138 people buried in an avalanche in the Siachen sector, close to Indian borders, as the rescue operation entered its fifth day today with no signs of survivors.

Rescuers were focussing on six "priority points" at the army's battalion headquarters in Gyari, which was hit by the avalanche on April 7.

"Work will start (on a) 130-foot-long horizontal tunnel with a diameter of three meters to attain access to the accommodation area," the military said in a statement.

The rescue teams had earlier focussed on five priority points and a sixth was added today. The army today also released photos of 94 of the 127 soldiers who were buried by the avalanche.

The military described the rescue operation at Gyari as "massive", saying 15 heavy machines, including dumpers, bulldozers, excavators and loaders, were working at the site.

At one point, rescuers had excavated up to 115 feet and at another point, excavation work had gone down to 100 feet.

A 450-metre access track had been developed and improved so that heavy vehicles could access the priority points, the statement said.

However, the military said the rescue operation was being hampered by "harsh and unfriendly" weather that is "posing operational and administrative difficulties for both men and machines".

The rescuers have found no trace so far of the 127 soldiers and 11 civilian employees who were buried when the avalanche slammed into the battalion headquarters on April 7.

Experts have said there are unlikely to be any survivors after the passage of five days since the incident. 


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