Indian soldier who was found alive after 6 days buried in avalanche dies

By Andrew V. Pestano

NEW DELHI, Feb. 11 (UPI) -- An Indian soldier found alive after being buried in snow for six days in the recent Siachen Glacier avalanche died on Thursday.

An Indian Army official said Lance Naik Hanumanthappa Koppad, 33, "breathed his last at 11.45 a.m. today." Before his death, the Army Hospital in Delhi in a statement said Koppad's condition was deteriorating and he was not responding to medication.


The earlier hospital statement also said his kidneys did not function, he was suffering from multiple organ failure, had irreversible blood clotting and "slipped into a deeper state of coma."

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi shared his condolences.

"He leaves us sad & devastated. RIP Lance Naik Hanumanthappa. The soldier in you remains immortal. Proud that martyrs like you served India," Modi wrote on Twitter.

Koppad was rescued from the military post on the Siachen glacier, at 19,000 feet elevation, in India-administered Kashmir near the border with China. He was found under 30 feet of snow and airlifted to a Delhi hospital. Rescue teams used mechanical snow-cutting equipment, radar and dog teams to search for the missing troops, nine of whom died.


The area, called the world's highest battlefield, is patrolled by Indian and Pakistani soldiers. Both countries claim the territory, where temperatures routinely fall to negative 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Koppad and his unit were on duty at an army post, near the Line Of Control separating Indian and Pakistani-administered Kashmir, when the avalanche overcame them. Rescue teams immediately began a search, but the odds of survival were so slim Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi sent messages of condolence last week. Modi announced Tuesday he would visit the surviving soldier in the hospital.

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