Five people died after getting buried under snow while seven others are still missing on Friday after an avalanche hit three vehicles at Khardung La in Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir.
The mishap in the mountainous pass occurred when two trucks and an SUV were being loaded with snow, Army officials said.
The avalanche struck the vehicles burying them under snow. There were 12 people present at that spot.
After hours, rescuers from the Army, State Disaster Response Force and local police recovered five bodies, officials said.
Search and rescue efforts were underway to locate the others with the Army deploying special 'Avalanche Panthers' teams for the rescue.
Meanwhile, expressing grief over the loss of lives, Governor Satya Pal Malik announced and ex gratia Rs 5 lakh to the kin of the deceased.
"Special snow rescue teams of Army equipped with specialised equipment and accompanied by rescue dogs are being deployed to carry out search and rescue operations However, since the Run Out Zone of the avalanche is approx 1100 metres down the steep hillside the operations may take some time," an Army spokesperson said.
Kargil war hero Lt Gen YK Joshi has also assured full support to the civil administration in the rescue operations.
The Army detachment at Khardungla Top was informed about the incident at around 7:45 am by the two civilian drivers, after which, the Army immediately rushed to the spot.
"Army teams deployed near the incident site swiftly moved in and commenced the search-and-rescue operations. Troops deployed at South Pullu and North Pullu also moved to the accident site and commenced the search and rescue operations. Simultaneously, the Army Aviation helicopters were pressed into action to move the highly trained avalanche rescue teams of the Army called "Avalanche Panthers Teams" from Siachen Base Camp and North pull-up," the spokesperson said.
Army Aviation helicopters were also used to move the deep search radars, which can detect human beings through the snow. Medical teams along with doctors and nursing assistants, heating blankets, medical equipment and warm clothing were moved to the avalanche site from the Army Hospital at Hunder.
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