Well-rehearsed drills to escape from natural disasters have saved the lives of over 200 Indian Army troops in the higher reaches of Jammu and Kashmir, where temperatures fall to as low as minus 57 degree Celsius.
There has been unprecedented snowfall in the last 48 hours at Gurez, Bandipur, Kupwara, Naugaon and Baramula in north Kashmir. The lowest temperature - minus 57 degree Celsius - was reported from North Glacier, or Siachen, the highest battlefield in the world.
At least 32 avalanches of different intensity have been reported near army posts, officials said. Over 200 troops at Gurez moved to a safer location before their post was hit by a big avalanche, officials said.
In Tangdhar sector, all seven soldiers who were at the post came under an avalanche. They were saved by soldiers of an alert rescue team. Similarly, at Gulmarg sector, seven soldiers whose shelter came under an avalanche were rescued. In Naogaon sector, all four Border Security Force personnel hit by an avalanche were rescued; however, a constable suffered a cardiac arrest and died.
In another avalanche at Machhil sector, rescue teams pulled out five soldiers. One died during treatment; the body of the other was found after a search, while two were found dead earlier during the day, officials said.
Avalanches are one of the biggest threats at Siachen, located at a height of around 20,000 feet in the Karakoram range. Avalanches and landslides are common at the glacier during winter.