RAWALPINDI: Chief of Army Staff, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani visited Siachen on Sunday to supervise the rescue operation launched to recover 135 soldiers and civilians trapped under the avalanche.
COAS Kayani was accompanied by Corps Commander Lieutenant General Khaild Nawaz Khan. Major General Ikram ul Haq, Commander FCNA apprised the COAS about the details of rescue operation.
According to an ISPR press release, COAS, while visiting the site of the rescue operation, said that an avalanche of such a magnitude was unprecedented in the last twenty years of this Battalion Headquarters existence at Gayari.
COAS further said the Army had mobilized all available resources with the assistance of PAF to carry out a full scale rescue operation. COAS instructed the Commanders to optimally utilize all available resources at their disposal and leave no stone unturned to reach out to the entrapped personnel.
COAS said that efforts were underway to acquire latest technical equipment for the rescue. Army Chief Kayani emphasized that calamity in no way should affect the morale of the troops defending the motherland at the highest battlefield. He said Pakistan Army has always risen to the occasion and will come through this challenge as well.
The military hoped for a miracle on Sunday as rescue teams searched for 124 soldiers and 11 civilians buried by a Himalayan avalanche near the Indian border, with no sign of survivors after 24 hours.
The avalanche engulfed a Pakistani army battalion headquarters near a glacier early on Saturday, leaving snow up to 80 feet (25 metres) deep over an area a kilometre wide.
The victims are trapped in one of the most unforgiving environments on Earth, at an altitude of 15,000 feet (4,500 metres) near the Siachen Glacier in the Karakoram mountain range.
"Let's hope for a miracle," a military official, who asked to remain anonymous, told Reuters.
Helicopter rescue teams and troops on the ground with sniffer dogs were racing against time.
"On Wednesday and Thursday we expect cloudy conditions and some snow fall as well which will make it difficult for any rescue operations to continue," said meteorologist Mohammed Hanif on state television.
The area is also one of the world's most militarily tense frontiers, where the Indian and Pakistani armies have confronted each other over disputed territory for decades.
Eleven civilian employees of the military were buried under the snow along with the soldiers of the 6 Northern Light Infantry Battalion, the military said in a statement.
The army listed the names of the missing on its website.
Siachen is in the northern part of the Himalayan region of Kashmir. The no-man's-land of Siachen is 20,000 feet (6,000 metres) above sea level.
Siachen has been described as the world's highest battlefield. Indian and Pakistani troops have fought at altitudes of over 20,000 feet in temperatures of minus 60 degrees Celsius.
Between 10,000 and 20,000 Indian and Pakistani troops are stationed in the mountains above the glacier.