[Watch] Amarnath Cloudburst: 16 Killed, Search For 40 Missing Still On

New Delhi: Flash flood triggered by a cloudburst near the holy cave shrine of Amarnath in Jammu and Kashmir swept away pilgrims. At least 16 were killed and 40 others injured. Rescue and relief operations led by the Indian Army are underway and search for the missing is on, agencies reported.

About 15,000 pilgrims have been moved to safety, NDTV reported.

According to an official, about 30-35 people are missing while five have been rescued. Gushing waters rolling down the mountainside due to the incessant rain-damaged 25 tents and three community kitchens where pilgrims are served food.

The cloudburst took place at around 5:30 pm on Friday, resulting in a heavy discharge of water near the Amarnath cave shrine. A sudden wave of water from above and sides of the cave, after heavy rain in the mountain’s upper reaches, swamped tents, and community kitchens and swept away scores of people near the Baltal base camp.

So far, 16 bodies have been recovered and search and rescue parties are looking for survivors under the rock-and-mud debris. Around 15,000 pilgrims have been shifted to safer locations while the injured will be moved to base camp, India Today reported quoting officials.

The Indian Army and teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) are leading rescue and relief operations, with assistance from personnel from various paramilitary forces. The Jammu and Kashmir administration has also pressed Advanced Light Helicopters into service for rescue operations.

According to ITBP officials, Amarnath Yatra has been temporarily suspended as the area is inundated. “If the weather remains normal and makeshift arrangements are made, then the yatra can be resumed tomorrow (July 9),” officials said.

The India Meteorological Department said the deaths and destruction near the Amarnath cave shrine in south Kashmir were due to a highly localised rain event. According to weather scientists, the shrine reported 31 mm of rainfall between 4.30 pm and 6.30 pm on Friday.

Ganderbal CMO Dr Afroza Shah said all the wounded are being treated at all three base hospitals; upper holy cave, lower holy cave, Panjtarni and other nearby facilities. “The injured patients are being managed well and are stable as of now,” Shah was quoted as saying.

An integrated command centre has been put in place under the charge of the Divisional Commissioner (Kashmir) besides establishing helpline numbers in Anantnag in south Kashmir, Srinagar and Delhi to help the families of those who might have been affected.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah took stock of the situation. They spoke to Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha over the phone, assuring him of all possible help from the Centre.

The annual 43-day Amarnath Yatra commenced from the twin base camps — Nunwan-Pahalgam in south Kashmir’s Anantnag and 14-km shorter Baltal in central Kashmir’s Ganderbal — on June 30. So far, over one lakh pilgrims have offered prayers at the cave shrine. The yatra is set to end on August 11 on the occasion of Raksha Bandhan.

  • Helpline numbers:

    NDRF: 011-23438252, 011-23438253

    Kashmir Divisional Helpline: 0194-2496240

    Shrine Board Helpline: 0194-2313149

    Toll-free numbers for pilgrims embarking on Amarnath Yatra: Jammu–18001807198, Srinagar — 18001807199

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