Tragedy Strikes the Amarnath Yatra
14 dead, rescue operations still on
A sudden cloudburst near Amarnath Cave in Jammu and Kashmir on the evening of July 8, resulted in flash floods sweeping away parts of the Amarnath temple, and killing at least 15. Rescue operations are still underway, as 45 individuals have been missing since the tragedy. Some agencies are speculating that the death toll could in fact be around 60-70.
According to the Indo-Tibetan Border Police, the cloudburst occurred at around 5:30 PM Friday, July 8, near the lower part of the cave, which is at a height of 3888 m. The Indian Army had also dispatched six rescue teams including helicopters to provide air support. The CRPF (Central Reserve Police Forces) also lent to the rescue efforts, also assigning ALH (Advanced Light Helicopters) choppers to rescue the injured.
Rescue operations were halted at around 10PM last night, and have resumed once again today. And for the time being, the Amarnath Yatra has been suspended until further notice.
The Chief Medical Officer of District Ganderbal, which is approximately 2.5 hours from the Amarnath Cave, is ready to handle the rescues and the injured being brought in by the rescue teams. CMO Dr. Afroza Shah said, "We are all ready. I have kept my district hospital in Ganderbal and Trauma Hospital Kangan in ready mode, to cater any sort of casualty in any case and any eventuality," in a statement to the Press, tweeted out by Press Information Bureau of Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh.
Hemant Soren, Jharkhand CM tweeted his condolences at 10:17 PM on July 8 - "May God give peace to the departed souls and give strength to the bereaved families in this hour of grief. I also wish the injured a speedy recovery."
List of helplines:
Joint Police Control Room Pahalgam
Police control room Anantnag
Shri Amarnath Shrine Board
NDRF - 011 23438252, 011 23438253
Kashmir Divisional Helpline - 0194 2496240
Shrine Board Helpline - 0192 2313149
A cloudburst over the Amarnath Yatra took a heavy toll with 16 dead and at least 50 injured. Several pilgrims are still reported missing with rescue operations on.
These videos and photographs from The Citizen Photographer give a sense of the terrible tragedy and the continuing ordeal: