A miracle happened in Siachen Glacier (an area of the Himalayan Mountains in India) a week ago. A soldier was buried under 25 feet of snow in temperatures that stayed near minus 40 degrees Celsius. That’s right: Celsius. And he was alive. Twitter exploded and praised his rescue as the #SiachenMiracle.
The soldier, Lance Naik Hanamanthappa, recently passed, but first he instilled a profound since of hope and humanity in all those who’ve encountered his story.
An Indian soldier, Hanamanthappa was found after having been buried alive for six days under 25 feet of snow in one of the most dangerous war zones in the world: the Siachen Glacier.
For those unfamiliar with the terrain, it’s a stretch of land that has been contested between India and Pakistan with temperatures so harsh, so intense and so frigid that one soldier stationed there dies every month, according to Asia Times.
And that’s not even counting the avalanche.
An avalanche buried the Sonam post in the Siachan Glacier at the beginning of February. People thought no one could have survived its crushing blow. Any soldiers discovered by rescue crews were expected to be casualties. The last big avalanche in the area had killed 129 Pakistani soldiers and 11 civilians. During the rescue efforts, in fact, ten soldiers were discovered dead.
So imagine their surprise on Feb. 3 when the army rescue team unearthed Lance Naik Hanumanthappa, an Army jawan with little chance of surviving his exposure to the elements.
No wonder #SiachenMiracle started trending as soon as the news went public. The world was amazed and extended its support for this incredible soldier who had beaten the odds.
Dhaval Mehta tweeted: “You sir, are the stuff of legends. Hats off to your courage & endurance. #SiachenAvalanche #SiachenMiracle”
One tweeted a pic of the rescue dogs used:
— Dhiraj V Deshmukh (@MeDeshmukh) February 10, 2016
Hanamanthappa was flown to Delhi’s Research and Referral Hospital immediately. His wife breathed a sigh of relief, saying: “I am very happy, I want to go and see him.”
She wasn’t the only one. India’s Prime Minister also came to see the soldier, as announced in this tweet:
— Hindustan Times (@htTweets) February 9, 2016
One woman, housewife Nidhi Pandey, had heard the story on the news and was moved to help the man, offering to donate her kidney to the ailing soldier.
Unfortunately, the joy surrounding the soldier’s survival was not to last. Hanumanthappa succumbed to a coma and died. Lance Naik Hanumanthappa passed away on on Feb. 11, 2016.
Now that the brave soldier has passed, the internet turned again to share condolences for those who lost a friend and a brave, incredible beacon of hope.
Said Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi: “He leaves us sad & devastated. RIP Lance Naik Hanumanthappa. The soldier in you remains immortal. Proud that martyrs like you served India.”
Added renowned Bollywood director Shekhar Kapur: “Even as we grieve your passing, your spirit continues to lift us with courage hope and pride #LanceNaikhanumanthappa #SiachenMiracle”
It’s discouraging to lose someone whose rescue had given so many people hope. But what happened after the rescue does not change the incredible, amazing story of one man’s survival amid incredibly inhumane conditions. Cases like these boost the faith and capacity to dream and hope for all they come in contact with. And for that, united, we all thank Lance Naik Hanumanthappa. Rest in peace, soldier.