Death toll of army personnel killed in avalanches rises to 20

Braving inclement weather, Army aviation pilots on Monday airlifted the five injured soldiers from Macchil to Srinagar for specialised treatment.

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Srinagar, Jan 30:  Five soldiers, found trapped under snow in Macchil sector and rescued on Saturday, succumbed to injuries on Monday, taking the toll of army personnel killed in avalanches in Kashmir to 20.

Braving inclement weather, Army aviation pilots on Monday airlifted the five injured soldiers from Macchil to Srinagar for specialised treatment, an army official said.

"Unfortunately, all five brave hearts attained martyrdom," the official said.

Avalanche

The five soldiers were trapped under snow at a forward post in Machhil on Saturday but were rescued by avalanche rescue teams. Meanwhile, the mortal remains of 14 soldiers who died in an avalanche near the Line of Control in Gurez sector of north Kashmir last week were also brought to Srinagar so that they could be sent to their native places for last rites.

The inclement weather was hampering the efforts of the army to airlift the mortal remains of the 14 soldiers who died in Gurez sector of Bandipora district on January 25, defence spokesman Colonel Rajesh Kalia said.

He said army aviation pilots made repeated attempts during the past week to reach the snow-bound Gurez and Machhil in Kupwara district of north Kashmir and finally managed to evacuate the rescued soldiers besides bringing back the bodies of the deceased soldiers. While 20 soldiers including an officer have died in avalanches in Kashmir over the past six days, five civilians were also killed in similar incidents in the valley.

The high altitude areas of Kashmir valley experienced heavy snowfall last week as a result of which the soldiers could not be flown to Srinagar as bad weather hampered the flying operations.

PTI

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