New Delhi, April 26: At least 15 soldiers lost their lives in avalanches in the last winter, while three others died in landslides, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar told parliament on Tuesday,April 26.
The minister, in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha, said that in the last winter season, between October 1, 2015, to March 31, 2016, as many as 15 soldiers died in avalanches and three soldiers died in landslides.
"Immediate rescue efforts in terms of rescue parties constituting ice craft experts, medical representatives and porters equipped with state-of-the-art equipment were mobilised to concerned locations. Aviation support was immediately extended to the rescue parties by highly trained aviators," Parrikar said.
"Personnel requiring medical attention were evacuated by air to base camps, field hospitals, general hospital, Army Hospital Research and Referral, New Delhi, as per the criticality of the patient."
Parrikar said troops posted in high-altitude areas were trained in 'basic and advance' skills in mountains and snow-bound areas.
Troops posted in avalanche prone areas are subjected to a series of training in the field formation area.
"Best quality winter clothing and equipment is procured to prevent weather related casualties. Modern means of conveyance like snow scooters are utilised to ensure timely reaction to any eventuality and reduce fatigue. A number of specialised equipment have also been deployed in the avalanche prone areas," he said.
Parrikar said weather conditions prevailing in the sector were closely monitored by the Snow and Avalanche Study Establishment stations at Sasoma and Srinagar and weather warnings issued are religiously followed in terms of restrictions on operation and administration related movement.
In February this year, 10 soldiers were buried under nearly 30 feet of ice and snow when an avalanche hit the Indian Army's Sonam post -- at an altitude of around 20,000 feet -- on the Siachen glacier.
One of the soldiers, Lance Naik Hanamanthapa Koppad, was found alive after being trapped under the snow for about six days. He succumbed to multi-organ failure on February 11 at the Army Hospital Research and Referral, New Delhi.
In March, two soldiers were washed away in the Kargil sector in an avalanche triggered by an earthquake.