Indian soldiers missing after deadly Kashmir avalanche

Srinagar on January 19, 2012
Image caption Kashmir has received some of its heaviest snowfall in years

One Indian soldier has been killed and seven others are missing after a massive avalanche hit a morning patrol in Indian-administered Kashmir.

The incident took place in Kupwara, 140km (87 miles) from Srinagar city.

The body of a senior officer has been recovered, an army spokesman told the BBC. He said a rescue operation had been launched to find the missing.

Kashmir has been hit by extreme snowfall, with temperatures dipping to as low as minus 20C.

Officials said a joint team of army and Border Security Force (BSF) personnel had been deployed to clear snow from a patrol track in Farkiyan Gali.

"As the soldiers were clearing the mountainous area on Tuesday morning, a massive avalanche trapped them," the spokesman said.

"We have sought help from the air force and a special team from the high altitude warfare division is on its way to Kupwara. The avalanche is massive, but we hope to find a few survivors," he said.

A large number of Indian soldiers are deployed along the 740km (460 mile) Line of Control which divides the disputed territory of Kashmir between India and Pakistan.

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