Lance Naik Hanamanthappa Koppad, who was rescued six days after an avalanche struck the Siachen glacier — the world’s highest battlefield — died today at the Army Research and Referral hospital in New Delhi at 11:45 am. The soldier, who hails from Karnataka, became the centrepiece of the nation’s attention after his miraculous rescue from the glacier on February 8. He had possibly survived the avalanche at minus 25 degrees celsius as he was stuck in an air pocket, the Indian Express had reported.
The Army said the 33-year-old soldier was highly motivated, physically fit and was enrolled in the 19th Battalion of the Madras Regiment on October 25, 2002. Throughout his career, Koppad displayed high degree of initiative and has served 10 years in difficult and challenging areas out of the 13 years of total service. He has served in Mahore (Jammu and Kashmir) from 2003 to 2006 where he was actively involved in counter-insurgency operations. He again volunteered to serve with 54 Rashtriya Rifles (MADRAS) in Jammu and Kashmir from 2008 to 2010 where he displayed indomitable courage and gallant in fighting terrorism during his tenure.
The Army said the Lance Naik volunteered to serve in the North East from 2010 to 2012 where he actively participated in successful operations against NDFB and ULFA. He was serving in the super high altitude areas of Siachen glacier from August 2015 and was chosen for deployment on one of the highest posts at an altitude of 19,600 feet since Dec 2015. The temperatures at the glacier are often well below minus 40 degrees celsius and experiences winds up to 100 km/hr.
The Army described him as a person who shared a cordial relationship with peers and subordinates. Koppad is survived by his parents, wife Mahadevi Ashok Bilebal and a two-year-old daughter Netra. His family always supported him in his endeavour to serve the nation, it said.