'Hope Miracle Continues,' Says Army On Siachen Soldier Still In Coma

'Hope Miracle Continues,' Says Army On Siachen Soldier Still In Coma

Lance Naik Hanamanthappa Koppad was buried under 25 feet of ice at the Siachen Glacier for 6 days before being rescued.

Highlights

  • When rescued, Lance Naik Hanamanthappa was unconscious, had faint pulse
  • He is currently in coma on ventilator support at Delhi's army hospital
  • Siachen soldier probably survived due to an 'air pocket' say army sources
New Delhi: India is rooting for the Siachen soldier who is in coma and on ventilator support after a miracle rescue nearly a week after a deadly avalanche at the world's highest battlefield.

Lance Naik Hanamanthappa Koppad, who was buried under 25 feet ice for six days, was pulled out by a rescue team on Monday. He was barely conscious, drowsy and disoriented with a faint pulse when he was flown by helicopter to Delhi's army hospital. Sources say he remains extremely critical and there has been no significant change in 12 hours.

"We hope the miracle continues," the army said in a statement after his rescue. "Pray with us."

The jawan had been trapped since February 3, when a wall of concrete-like ice a kilometer wide came crashing down on his army post, killing nine of his colleagues.

Hanamanthappa was severely dehydrated, hypothermic and in shock. He has pneumonia and liver and kidney problems. "He has been placed on a ventilator to protect his airway and lungs in view of his comatose state," the army said, adding that 48 hours would be critical because of the complications caused by "re-warming and establishment of blood flow."

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who visited the soldier in hospital yesterday, tweeted: "No words are enough to describe the endurance & indomitable spirit of Lance Naik Hanumanthappa. He is an outstanding soldier." The soldier's family is expected to see him today.

Hanamanthappa was found in a fibre-reinforced hut that was buried deep in ice. He was saved because of an "air pocket", say officers.

The rescue team could not work more than 30 minutes at a time. The rescue effort took some 300 sorties and an intense search at a height of nearly 20,000 feet, where it is difficult to breathe, let alone dig. It became more challenging because the snow had turned into hard ice.

Thousands of troops are in constant danger of frostbite and asphyxiation at the Siachen Glacier, located at the northern tip of Kashmir. More soldiers have died here because of the weather and difficult terrain than in battle.
 Megastar Amitabh Bachchan and cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar were among those who tweeted that they were praying for the soldier.
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