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Jawan killed in HP avalanche cremated with military honours; five others still missing

twitter-logoPTI | February 22, 2019 | Updated 22:52 IST

(Eds: updating with Army statement) Shimla, Feb 22 (PTI) The last rites of Army jawan Rakesh Kumar, who was killed in an avalanche near Shipki La on Wednesday, was performed with full military honours in his native village in Himachal Pradesh on Friday even as five others trapped in the snow are still untraceable, a defence spokesperson said. Six jawans of the Army's 7 JAK Rifles -- four from Himachal Pradesh and one each from Uttarakhand and Jammu and Kashmir -- were buried under the avalanche that occurred near the Shipki La border outpost in Kinnaur district around 11 AM on Wednesday. Havaldar Kumar's body was recovered the same day. A search operation could not carried out on Thursday due to bad weather. The Army issued a statement Friday, saying the search for the five remaining jawans is being conducted by mountaineers of the Dogra Scouts and specialised equipment, including thermal radars, have been pressed into service. However, blizzards, high speed winds, fresh snowfall and poor visibility have severely hampered the rescue operation, the defence spokesperson said, adding that a fresh snow slide caused further setback. A fresh avalanche of about 120 metres in length and 20 metres in height hit the Tinku Nullah area in Kinnaur district on Friday, district public relations officer Mamta Negi said, adding that no loss of life or property was reported. Earlier, Army, civil and police officers paid homage to Kumar in Kinnaur before airlifting his body to Bilaspur at 12.10 pm, officials added. Kumar's mortal remains were consigned to flames in Bilaspur district by his son, Manish, they said. Thousands of people, including from neighbouring areas, paid their last respects to Kumar at the Ghumarpur village crematorium. Traffic movement on the national highway between Pooh and Karcham continued to be hampered at four different locations due to snow slides and falling rocks, the defence spokesperson said, adding that General Reserve Engineer Force (GREF) personnel have been deployed to clear the road. PTI DJI IJT

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