NEW DELHI (Reuters) - An Indian soldier who survived being trapped under 25 feet (8 meters) of snow for six days after being caught in an avalanche died in hospital on Thursday.Hanumanthappa Koppad and nine colleagues were buried alive after a mass of snow collapsed on their post on the Siachen Glacier, which India and Pakistan have fought over intermittently for three decades.Although presumed dead, Hanumanthappa, was found with a pulse by rescue workers using shovels and chainsaws to cut through the ice and snow to reach the buried soldiers at a height of 19,600 feet (6,000 meters). He was unconscious and taken to military hospital in New Delhi three days ago.The army said he died after suffering multiple organ failure, pneumonia and blood clotting.”He leaves us sad and devastated,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on his Twitter page. “The soldier in you remains immortal. Proud that martyrs like you served India.”The discovery of the soldier sent a wave of patriotic pride through India with television networks calling him the “Siachen braveheart”.
The soldiers were manning a post opposite Pakistani troops in an area known as the battleground on the roof of the world in northern Kashmir, where avalanches and landslides are common. On the glacier, thousands of Indian and Pakistani soldiers contest an area where they must deal with altitude sickness, high winds, frostbite and temperatures as low as minus 60 degrees Celsius (minus 76 degrees Fahrenheit).The weather and terrain have claimed more lives than fighting.
Last month, four Indian soldiers were killed by an avalanche while on patrol in the same region. In 2012, an avalanche on the Pakistan-controlled part of the glacier killed 129 soldiers.
Reporting By Andrew MacAskill; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani, Robert Birsel