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Five soldiers rescued from avalanche succumb to injuries

Five Indian soldiers, rescued from an avalanche near the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir's Kupwara district last week, succumbed to their injuries while being evacuated, defence officials said on Monday.

Their bodies are expected to be brought to New Delhi on Tuesday, said officials.

The five soldiers got trapped under snow after a track caved-in in Machil sector of Kupwara on January 28.

They were subsequently rescued after a gruelling daylong mission, and were being brought to Srinagar on Monday, despite persistent poor weather conditions, for specialist medical care.

"Unfortunately, all the bravehearts have succumbed to their injuries," a statement said.

Out of the five, Naik Ramchandra Shamrao Mane, 33, Sepoy Ganesh Kisan Dhavale, 30, Sepoy Balaji Bhagwanrao Ambore, 26, hailed from Maharastra whereas Gunner Kannan M Thamothara, 27, was from Tamil Nadu's Madurai, and Signalman Deva Haza Bhai Parmar, 27, from Gujarat's Bhavnagar.

A wreath-laying ceremony will take place here on Tuesday morning before the bodies reach Delhi later during the day from where they will be flown to their native places for last rites.

The bodies will be flown on Indian Air Force aircraft to the airports nearest to their native place. From the airport concerned, further transportation by helicopters are being planned wherever feasible, an official said.

The mortal remains of 14 soldiers who were killed in an avalanche in Gurez but could not be evacuated earlier because of the weather, were also brought to Srinagar on Monday in Indian Air Force helicopters.

No helicopter sorties could take place on Saturday and Sunday to either Gurez or Machil sectors due to foggy weather and continuing snowfall there.

These 14 soldiers were killed after two avalanches hit a military post and a patrol team along the Line of Control (LoC) in last few days.

Separate avalanches buried a military post and swept away a patrol on Wednesday night in Gurez, burying a total of 21 soldiers, out of which seven soldiers were rescued.

Earlier, an army major was also killed in an avalanche in Ganderbal district.

Kashmir has seen heavy snow this week and authorities had warned of the "high danger" of avalanches. Power and communication lines are also down in some areas.

Officials evacuated dozens of residents from high-risk areas after authorities issued an avalanche warning in many parts of the region.

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