Lance Naik Hanumanthappa Koppad has become a household name by now, thanks to his miraculous survival at Siachen where nine of his comrades were buried 25 feet under an avalanche at minus 40 degree temperature on February 3. All of them were Armymen of 19 Madras Regiment, including Koppad, and died while manning the highest helipad on the Saltoro Ridge.
Koppad was found six days after the search rescue operation started, buried under the snow but alive. He is currently comatose and continues to be in shock with low blood pressure.
In its first medical bulletin, Army’s Research and Referral Hospital said, the Lance Naik remains extremely critical and is expected to have a stormy course in the next 24-48 hours due to complications caused by re-warming and establishment of blood flow to the cold parts of the body.
The bulletin added that Koppad has pneumonia and his liver and kidney are also dysfunctioning.
Koppad hails from village Betadur in Dharwad, Karnataka, and his family landed in New Delhi late Tuesday.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited him at the hospital. Modi remarked, "No words are enough to describe the endurance and indomitable spirit of Lance Naik Hanumanthappa". Before leaving, he tweeted, "Going to see Lance Naik Hanumanthappa, with prayers from the entire nation”.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, who also visited the hospital with Army chief General Dalbir Singh, tweeted, “My prayers are with Lance Naik Hanumanthappa who miraculously survived the avalanche at Siachen.”
Koppad was flown on a helicopter to the Siachen base camp and then to Thoise air base. Later, he was transferred to New Delhi by an IAF air ambulance.
Applauding Koppad's indomitable spirit, President Pranab Mukherjee prayed for his speedy recovery. He said, Koppad has survived and his will power and courage to fight all odds is truly an example for others.
Mahadevi (Jayashri), wife of Koppad, termed his survival a ‘rebirth for the family’. “If he has survived miraculously, it is mainly because of his mother’s prayers,” she said.