New Delhi, Jun 29: Five soldiers, including a junior commissioned officer (JCO), were killed during an exercise early Saturday as their Russian-origin T-72 tank was swept away following flash floods in the Shyok river near the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh, officials said.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said he was deeply saddened by the unfortunate accident that occurred in the river near Saser Brangsa.

Two T-72 tanks were trying to cross Shyok around 1 am and one of them got stuck in high currents in the river, the officials said, adding the melting of snow resulted in the increase in the water levels.

The Army deployed rescue teams but the mission didn't succeed in view of the raging waters in the river.

The deceased personnel are MRK Reddy, Subhan Khan, Bhupendra Negi, E Teibam and Sadarbonia Nagaraju.

"Deeply saddened at the loss of lives of five of our brave Indian Army soldiers in an unfortunate accident while getting the tank across a river in Ladakh," Singh said on X.

"We will never forget exemplary service of our gallant soldiers to the nation. My heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families," he said.

"The nation stands firm with them during this hour of grief," he said.

The soldiers belonged to the 52 Armoured Regiment deployed at Daulat Beg Oldi (DBO) military base in the strategically located region close to the LAC with China.

"... While de-inducting from a military training activity, an army tank got stuck in the Shyok River, near Saser Brangsa, Eastern Ladakh due to sudden increase in the water level," the Army's Leh-based Fire and Fury Corps said.

"Rescue teams rushed to the location, however, due to high current and water levels, the rescue mission didn't succeed, and the tank crew lost their lives," it said.

"The Indian Army regrets loss of five brave personnel while being operationally deployed in Eastern Ladakh. Rescue operations are underway," it said on X.

Army Chief Gen Manoj Pande and all ranks of the force condoled the death of the five personnel.

Gen Manoj Pande and all ranks of the Indian Army express heartfelt condolences on the loss of five brave soldiers who lost their lives during a training activity in Ladakh, it said.

The Fire and Fury Corps in another tweet said, "GOC Fire and Fury Corps and All Ranks salute the Bravehearts who made supreme sacrifice, in the line of duty in #Ladakh on 29 Jun 24 and offer deep condolences to the bereaved families in this hour of grief."

The Indian Army troops deployed in the areas have been on a very high alert following the Galwan Valley clashes in June, 2020. The Army has deployed a sizable number of tanks in eastern Ladakh in view of the lingering border row.

The Indian and Chinese militaries have been locked in a standoff since May 2020 and a full resolution of the border row has not yet been achieved though the two sides have disengaged from a number of friction points.

The ties between the two countries nosedived significantly following the fierce clash in the Galwan Valley in June 2020 that marked the most serious military conflict between the two sides in decades.

India has been maintaining that its ties with China cannot be normal unless there is peace in the border areas.

The two sides held the last round of high-level military talks in February with an aim to resolve the row.

Though there was no indication of a breakthrough at the 21st round of talks, both sides agreed to maintain "peace and tranquillity" on the ground and continue the communication on the way ahead. PTI