Snowfall hits search of troopers missing in Himachal avalanche

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Shimla, Feb 24 (IANS) Snowfall on Sunday hampered search for five troopers, who went missing last week after an avalanche hit the snow-bound Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh, officials said.

“The search was halted due to intermittent snowfall throughout the day. The search parties could not find any vital clues,” an official told IANS over phone.

As the search operation entered the fifth day on Sunday, 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

Local mountaineers are also involved in the operation.

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The February 20 avalanche was triggered by sliding of a glacier near Namgia Dogri, bordering Tibet, burying six Jammu and Kashmir Rifles troopers. Sixteen J&K Rifles’ troopers were on a routine patrol in the area.

The body of one trooper has been found.

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 told IANS.

The India Metrological Department (IMD) has predicted more snowfall in the region on February 26-27, and thereafter on March 1-2.

–IANS

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