Hanamanthappa Koppad, an Indian soldier, was rescued six days after an avalanche in the Himalayan region of Kashmir trapped him beneath 25 feet (7.62 m) of snow and killed nine of his colleagues.
The man may have survived thanks to a tent that was buried next to him, which created an air pocket, allowing Koppad to breathe under the snow, officials explained.
The soldier was found on Monday night, along with the bodies of nine other soldiers. Fortunately for Koppad, he was still conscious (although disoriented) when the rescuers found him.
Last Wednesday, a huge avalanche occurred on the northern end of Siachen Glacier – located in the eastern Karakoram Range in the Himalaya Mountains where the Line of Control between India and Pakistan ends. The avalanche slammed into an Indian army post.
In Kashmir (region in the north-west of the Indian subcontinent), avalanches are quite common especially during winter when temperatures can drop to about -76 degrees Fahrenheit. Ever since India seized control of that region, a lot more Pakistani and Indian troops have died because of harsh weather, rather than combat. In 2012, a massive avalanche killed 140 people of which 129 were Pakistani soldiers.
Avalanches are quite difficult to avoid entirely and are also highly unpredictable. Mountain workers and hikers can take a few precautions that could make a big difference between life and death in the case of an avalanche.
The following items are a must-have for those who want to venture into dangerous territory: a shovel and probe, an avalanche rescue beacon, and a first aid kit. Another item that can be useful is the avalanche airbag backpack. These airbag backpacks manage to keep people near the surface of the snow. People who wear them may have almost double the chance of surviving an avalanche. Training in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) can also come in handy.
The Utah Avalanche Center stated that most avalanche victims die from carbon dioxide poisoning, because as they breathe, the gas is accumulating around them in the snow. Another thing that is crucial is remaining near the surface. About 93 percent of avalanche victims can be saved, provided that they are found by rescuers within the first fifteen minutes. Otherwise, after 45 minutes the chances of survival decrease to 20-30 percent.
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