Siachen miracle: 25-feet air pocket kept Lance Naik Hanamanthappa alive

Siachen avalanche: Army sources said Hanamanthappa was detected with the help of a radar, but rescue teams had little hope of “discovering him alive”.

Written by Pranav Kulkarni , Sushant Singh | New Delhi | Updated: February 10, 2016 5:05 pm
siachen, siachen Hanumanthappa, siachen avalanche, siachen survivor, siachen miracle, siachen news, siachen soldier, Lance Naik Hanumanthappa, nation news Siachen avalanche survivor Lance Naik Hanumanthappa was miraculously found alive by a special team.

The miraculous rescue of Lance Naik Hanamanthappa Koppad was possible because he was trapped inside an air pocket under 35 feet of snow, and had access to oxygen ever since he was buried alive in an avalanche on February 3, Army officials said.

Army sources said Hanamanthappa was detected with the help of a radar, but rescue teams had little hope of “discovering him alive”.

About 150-200 personnel from nearby posts and units, including the 19 Madras regiment to which Hanamanthappa belongs, were engaged in round-the-clock rescue work since the avalanche. The rescue teams, which also included two sniffer dogs, Dot and Misa, were equipped with radars, snow cutting equipment, medical equipment, Doppler radars and thermal detectors. They also had specialised digging and boring equipment, like rock drills, electrical saws and earth augers to break blue ice, which is harder than rock.

Also read: Next 24-48 hours critical for soldier battling for life at Delhi hospital

WATCH: The Miraculous Rescue Of The Siachen Soldier

Of the 10 men who were buried in the avalanche that hit the Army post at Saltoro ridge on the northern glacier in Siachen, Hanamanthappa is the only one to have been rescued alive. Army officers said the bodies of the jawans were scattered at different locations, and were detected with the help of their radio sets, which kept transmitting signals from beneath the snow. “As a practice, radio sets at the post are never switched off,” an Army official said.

Rescuers also used radars and thermal imagers, which indicate changes in the temperature of an area due to the presence of a human body. “It took the teams several tries to drill and reach Hanamanthappa’s exact location,” an official said.

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When he was pulled out at 7.30 pm on Monday, his pulse was weak and he was drowsy and disoriented. He was immediately evacuated and treated at the post before being flown to Delhi via Thoise on Tuesday.

READ: Soldier battles for life after Siachen miracle, next 24-48 hours critical

Hanamanthappa, who was was buried under a layer of snow 35 feet thick at a temperature of minus 45 degree Celsius, was “immediately resuscitated by doctors at the site, who had been there for the past five days in the hope of finding a survivor”.

READ: Relief, prayers in Lance Naik Hanumanthappa’s village after news of rescue

“The credit goes to his willpower to survive and stay alive despite the sub-zero temperature,” an official said.

An Army doctor said he may have been inside a tent when the avalanche struck, which helped him keep warm under the snow.

Extreme weather conditions along with snow storms had slowed down rescue operation. “Moreover, at the height of 20,500 feet, where oxygen content is thin, physical efforts are limited. The teams are still deployed on the spot,” said an official.

According to a senior Army official, “We were lucky as we got three clear days, when a large number of sorties could take place.”

The rescue team was led by Commanding Officer of 19 Madras, who established a temporary camp at Sonam Post, where night temperatures hit minus 55 degree Celsius. The rescue team of 150 had to be deployed in rotation as each soldier needs to be rested after every 15 minutes due to low availability of oxygen at a high altitude.

The Army has recovered the bodies of the remaining nine soldiers. “They will be flown to the base camp and Thoise the moment weather opens up,” an official said.

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  1. V
    Feb 10, 2016 at 12:48 pm
    The author wants to give all credit to the so called Air pocket and not to the brave soldier. The author wants to convey a message that anyone can live happily for many days buried inside avalanche if there is a small air pocket. Shameful jounalism
    1. S
      Feb 10, 2016 at 5:18 am
      जाको राखे साइयाँ मार सके न कोय
      1. A
        Alphonso D'souza
        Feb 10, 2016 at 12:24 pm
        you give a finger and you have lost your hand. Where we have Pak and Chinese around, we can not give up this. Because of the sacrifices made by these young men, India is safe. |It is time, we all need to do something for the families of all these soldiers. Government will forget after a few days, weeks or months. We as citizens can do something
        1. D
          Debasish Sahu,
          Feb 10, 2016 at 6:02 am
          Thanks to the team rescued the brave soldier
          1. G
            Group Captain
            Feb 23, 2016 at 2:41 pm
            The miracle at the Death Zone speaks volumes of not only the grit and determination of the Indian Jawans but also volumes about the std of trg given to the Jawans at the HAWS and at the Siachen Battle School. But the best part is the Fauzi camaraderie,of never leaving a comrade behind.The hard work put by the brave Rescue Team and the professionalism of the Army Docs would go down in the annals of the history. The IMF is rightly shortly organising the First Mountain Med and First Aid Course(similar to NOL's Wilderness Med Course).Perhaps the IMF may make a case study of this ops for the students and should now plan a Course in Disaster management,to be of some help in such situations than Mountaineering,merely as a hobby.
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