Dogged determination of over 150 soldiers helped by two canines, Dot and Misha, besides earth penetrating radars and special ice cutting equipment helped rescue Lance Naik Hanamanthappa Koppad, who was buried under 25 feet of ice at 19,500 feet on the Siachen Glacier.
On February 3, a large ice wall broke off and covered an army post in northern glacier in Siachen, the world's highest battlefield.
The debris, included massive ice boulders, some the size of a small room, spread over 800x1000 metres.
The rescue teams had the arduous task of breaking through 25-30 ft of blue ice, which was harder than concrete, and chip it away inch by inch, army officials said while explaining the rescue operation.
Over 150 trained and acclimatized army troops, including specialized teams trained in glaciated terrain, were moved into the avalanche site and round-the-clock rescue operations were carried out in extreme weather conditions where the average day temperature was minus 30 degrees Celsius and almost minus 55 degrees at night.
Medical teams and equipment were moved in and a post established to provide emergency treatment at the rescue site itself.
Specialized rescue dogs were also pressed into service.
"The dogs, Dot and Misha, did a tremendous job," the officials said.
It has been reported that dogs are the “ever alert sentries” at the Siachen base camp with many tales of the canines sacrificing their lives for the soldiers.
According to a PTI report:
The dogs forewarn the soldiers of environmental dangers like avalanches and also provide navigational assistance in locating missing troops. They also work as mail dispatchers sometimes between the post and the base camp. They also provide the much-needed company to a soldier, who has to guard a post in the "killer glacier'' for three months.
Specialized digging and boring equipment, like rock drills, electrical saws and earth augers were flown in.
In addition, deep penetration radars, capable of detecting metallic objects and heat signatures at a depth of 20 meters, and radio signal detectors were also flown in using Air Force fixed wing aircrafts and Army Aviation helicopters.
Using the specialized equipment the rescue teams were able to identify locations, where the digging was then carried out.
However, rescue efforts were frequently hampered by high velocity winds and blizzards.
By Monday, the rescue teams were able to reach the location of the buried habitat and Koppad was recovered alive.
The bodies of nine soldiers were also extricated from their icy grave.
"Him being found alive electrified the entire rescue team. There was a sudden burst of energy among the men," officials said.
When rescued, Koppad was conscious but drowsy and disoriented. He was severely "dehydrated, hypothermic, hypoxic, hypoglycemic and in shock".
He was immediately resuscitated by the doctors at the site, who had been there for the past 5 days in the hope of finding a survivor.
He was treated with warm intravenous fluids, humidified warm oxygen and passive external rewarming. He was later moved to the Army and Research Hospital in Delhi.