Leh cloudburst: About 26 army personnel missing

Leh cloudburst: About 26 army personnel missing

The devastating cloudburst has done a lot of damage to the military establishment in this remote region where 26 army personnel are still missing after the disaster on the night of August 5.

The Army today said most of the missing personnel are feared to have been buried under 20 to 25 feet of slush while a few could even have been washed away into areas under Pakistan's control.

"The cloudburst has done a lot of damage to civilian as well as the military establishment," GOC of 14 Corps Lieutenant General S K Singh said here. Giving an overview of the extend of damage to the military establishment, he said small culverts and bridges used for going to many forward locations have been destroyed and it will take quite some time before these can be re-built.

Talking about the missing army personnel in Tyakshi border post in Turtuk sector, about 150 metres from the Line of Control, Singh said too much of water got into one of the streams due to the cloudburst.

"It turned into sort of a lake and breached the embankments bringing the complete hillside down," Singh said. He said unlike in other places where the height of slush is about 4 to 5 feet, it is about 20-25 feet where the army camp had once stood.

"Our total losses are 26 (personnel) and I think the bulk of them would be buried under the rubble. However, it cannot be ruled out that some of them could have been washed away."

The Shyok river flows through the area into the Northern Areas under Pakistan's control. Official sources said the Director General Military Operation (DGMO) has already informed the Pakistani counterparts about possibility of some army personnel being washed away there.

The Lt Gen said two Junior Commissioner Officers and 15 personnel of other rank from Bihar Regiment and one JCO and eight others from the Raj Rif Regiment are missing. He said rescue operation is yet to be carried out there as roads have been completely destroyed. Sources said an aerial survey has been carried out and efforts are on to open the access points.

Meanwhile, the Army said it was hopeful of reopening the two National Highways by the end of this week. "Our priority is to restore connectivity on the two National Highways for which we have put in all our resources," Singh said.

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