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Soldier beats demise tweet

Published On : 09 Feb 2016

New Delhi, (The Telegraph): Here’s a story, a real life one. Lance Naik Hanumanthappa Koppad, of the 19 Madras Regiment, has been found alive after the Prime Minister and all other ranks of the government presumed him dead.

The pulse of the soldier from Karnataka was still beating after he had been all but given up for dead along with nine others of his company that were manning the highest helipad in the world on the Saltoro Ridge flanking the Siachen Glacier.

Three days ago, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had tweeted after the avalanche that buried their post: “Demise of soldiers in Siachen is very tragic. I salute the brave soldiers who gave their lives to the nation. Condolences to their families.”

There were 10 soldiers manning the helipad named Sonam at 19,600ft. Behind them loomed the Bana upride, the highest hill 1,500ft above. A clunk of ice roughly a kilometre wide had cranked down from the cliff-face to Sonam at the Bana base.

Even yesterday, they said rescuers were burrowing through 20-25ft of ice for signs of life.

Lance Naik Hanumanthappa was this morning found after the rescuers of the army in Siachen spotted a body in an enclosed sphere under 25ft of snow.

The bones of the body will have to be broken to be packed into a small Cheetah helicopter tomorrow morning to
be carried down to a base camp.

The winds and heights of Siachen impose such restrictions that helicopters cannot carry above a certain weight and men may not burden themselves with anything overweight beyond guns, woollens and thought.

When reports last came in, four more bodies had been found. All were under 25ft of ice and snow.

The injured are the first priority on such hostile terrain. This afternoon, after the lance naik was hoisted, fellow soldiers looked skywards — at Siachen, the sky is within touching distance anyway — and looked at Hanumanthappa again.

He was brought up, breathing, pulse weak, but heart beating, in a tribute to human endurance.

Photo credit: The Telegraph

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