Lance Naik Hanumanthappa Koppad, who was rescued alive from under 25 feet of snow at the Siachen Glacier in the Himalayas six days after his post was hit by an avalanche, now lies in a coma, and has been been placed on ventilator support at the Army's Research and Referral Hospital in Delhi, as the nation prays for his recovery.
Earlier today, Prime Minister Narendra Modi broke security protocol to pay the soldier from Karnataka a special visit. The Prime Minister, who travels in a BMW convoy, took the front seat on a Range Rover car which did not even a have a beacon light. Not only was there inadequate security at the Research and Referral Hospital during his silent visit, it appeared that even the Delhi Police was not informed about the visit.
"No words are enough to describe the endurance & indomitable spirit of Lance Naik Hanumanthappa. He is an outstanding soldier," tweeted the Prime Minister.
No words are enough to describe the endurance & indomitable spirit of Lance Naik Hanumanthappa. He is an outstanding soldier: PM— PMO India (@PMOIndia) February 9, 2016
PM visited RR Hospital to enquire about Lance Naik Hanumanthappa. He also spoke to doctors at the hospital. pic.twitter.com/KSHb4NdWCx— PMO India (@PMOIndia) February 9, 2016
Chief of Army Staff, General Dalbir Singh, earlier met the Madras regiment soldier, who is said to be in a "critical" condition.
An avalanche hit his post at the altitude of 19,600 feet close to the Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan. A wall of ice, a kilometre wide and 800 metres high, came crashing down on their post.
The other nine personnel at the post, including a Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO) and eight other ranks of Madras Regiment, have died, according to Lt Gen D S Hooda, Northern Army Commander.
"Five bodies have been recovered so far and four bodies have been identified," he said.
An army spokesperson said Koppad's rescue is nothing short of a miracle. A report in the Deccan Chronicle said Koppad survived because he was trapped in an air bubble.
Koppad's wife, who has been praying for her husband's survival, told the media in Dharwad, Karnataka, that she is anxiously waiting to see him.
I am very happy, I want to go and see him, says wife of Lance Naik Hanumanthappa, in Dharwad, Karnataka. pic.twitter.com/U1Lrc2zIbG— ANI (@ANI_news) February 9, 2016
Meanwhile, his nephew, who had lost all hopes, said that it was the blessings of the entire villagers that Koppad has fought with the extremely difficult conditions and stayed alive. Army sources told ANI that the rescue teams have located mortal remains of all the remaining nine soldiers and they are being brought out from the avalanche site. Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had yesterday dismissed suggestions for withdrawal of troops from Siachen.
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