Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid tribute to the 10 Indian Army soldiers who were trapped under snow in the Siachen Glacier after an avalanche hit on Tuesday.
“Demise of soldiers in Siachen is very tragic. I salute the brave soldiers who gave their lives to the nation,” he wrote on the microblogging platform Twitter.
Earlier in the day, the defence ministry had said that chances of finding the soldiers “are very remote”.
The operation was intensified on Thursday with the induction of specialised teams, sniffer dogs and equipment to trace the army personnel trapped at a high-altitude post after an avalanche. “Specialised equipment was flown in to Leh today (Thursday) morning,” the spokesperson said.
He said that blocks of snow had fallen on the post. “To clear the same is a very difficult task,” he said. Snow cutters and special equipment have been put to use to clear and cut the ice blocks.
The avalanche hit the post situated at 19,600 feet in the Northern Glacier sector in the Ladakh region on Wednesday.
The missing personnel were attached to the Madras battalion stationed at the post. The Indian Army and the Indian Air Force teams are battling harsh weather conditions and difficult terrain to trace the missing soldiers.
Avalanches and landslides are common in Kashmir, which is divided between India and Pakistan and claimed by both entirely. The nations also dispute the undemarcated border through the Siachen Glacier at an altitude of nearly 19,000 feet (5,800 meters).
Thousands of Indian and Pakistani troops are stationed on the freezing Himalayan terrain, where more troops have died from the gruelling conditions than from hostile fire.
Last month, four Indian soldiers on foot patrol were killed by an avalanche in the same region.
In 2012, an avalanche in the Pakistan-controlled part of the glacier killed 140 people, including 129 soldiers. The two countries have discussed ways to demilitarize the Siachen Glacier without success.