A day after snowfall halted the search operation for five troopers, who went missing last week after an avalanche hit Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh, the operation began again on Monday, officials said.
“The rescue operation started at 7 am More engineering efforts like chain saws and drill machines have been deployed to enhance the operation,” an official, who is coordinating the operation, told IANS.
The search was halted on Sunday due to intermittent snowfall throughout the day. No clues were found till then.
As the search operation entered the sixth day on Monday, officials said chances of survival of those trapped in the snow were slim.
Officials said a lot of snow had accumulated at the avalanche site, 350 km from the state capital, and fresh snow has made treks treacherous. The snow has solidified into hard rocks, making it difficult to dig, they said.
Many mountaineers from the area are also involved in the operation.
The February 20 avalanche was triggered by the sliding of a glacier near Namgia Dogri, bordering Tibet, burying six Jammu and Kashmir Rifles troopers.
One of the trapped soldiers, Rakesh Kumar (41), was pulled out the same day but his life could not be saved. His body was airlifted to his native place Ghumarpur village in Bilaspur district today.
The state government said two separate parties of the Army and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) were patrolling Namgia Dogri when the avalanche hit.
Five ITBP troopers were also injured in the disaster.
Blizzards, high-speed winds, fresh snowfall and poor visibility had been severely hampering the rescue operations, an Indian Army spokesperson said.
Lt Gen PM Bali, Chief of Staff of Western Command headquarters, visited the site of the avalanche on February 23 and assured that all out efforts were underway for searching the missing Army men.
Stepping up rescue operations, the Army deployed around 200 people that also include personnel from Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and Border Roads Organisation (BRO).
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has predicted more snowfall in the region on February 26-27, and thereafter on March 1-2.
(With inputs from IANS)