One army officer died following an avalanche near a camp in Sonamarg area in Ganderbal district in J&K, but in a miraculous escape Major Shrihari Kugaji, attached to 115 Mahar Battallion of Territorial Army unit in Belagavi escaped from the avalanche. The camp is located at a height of 10,000 feet in the Himalayas and was witnessing snowfall for the last one week.
Shrihari made out his way from the Rubble of the avalanche on Wednesday but his colleague was killed in the same who was sleeping in the bunker next to his.
Major Shrihari Kugaji was posted in Sonamarg of Ganderbal district a few months ago. On Wednesday Jan 25, Shrihari was one amongst the 98 who got buried after an avalanche near their army camp in Sonamarg.
The incident occurred around 5.45 AM and they just heard a loud noise and heavy winds and before even they could react the ceiling came upon them and all were buried. He was under the debris and the ice started to seeping in and breathing was becoming impossible. He was somehow able to make some space under his sleeping bed. With so much of ice his entire body was going numb and he kept on shouting for help.
At times he felt this was it, death was nearing. He pushed the ice under the bed and he even ate some to ensure some gap can be created to get oxygen in. Finally, after two hours of struggle, he could reach his hand out of the debris and snow.
The rescue team was already there and they heard his voice and eventually rescued him.
Maj. Kugaji was an active member of a group of environmentalists in Belagavi before joining Indian Army. He was instrumental in creating awareness on the conservation of biodiversity at the Bhimgad Wildlife Sanctuary in Belagavi. Shrihari Kugaji has completed his LLB from Raja Lakhamgouda Law College, Belagavi and his PUC from Govindram Seksaria Science College.