Cloud Burst: 15 Amarnath pilgrims dead, 40 still missing

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Death toll rises to 10, over 40 missing in Batal cloud burst

SRINAGAR — At least 15 pilgrims died while over 40 others are missing after flash floods triggered by a cloudburst hit the holy cave area of Shri Amarnathji on Friday.

The cloud burst occurred at around 5:30 PM and triggered flash floods enroute to the cave shrine. More than two dozen tents and three langers were washed away by the floods. Some other tents were also affected due to the gushing waters, officials said.

While a few persons were rescued, 40-50 people are said to be still missing, sources said. “So far, 15 bodies have been found and at least five of them are females,” a senior NDRF official said, according to the news agency GNS.

Soon after the calamity struck, members of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) along with teams of Police, Army, ITBP, BSF and other forces started a massive rescue operation. When this report was filed, they were continuously working on the spot to find out the missing, officials said.

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Sources said that the rescue operations shall continue throughout the night to find any survivors.

Meanwhile, Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha briefed Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah regarding the situation incident and the ongoing rescue operations. The Centre is extending all the assistance, he said.

“Spoke to Hon’ble PM & Hon’ble HM and briefed about the incident. Hon’ble PM & Hon’ble HM has assured all the help,” he tweeted, adding, “Our priority is to save the lives of people. Instructions have been issued to provide all necessary assistance to pilgrims. I am closely monitoring the situation.”

He also expressed his grief and offered condolence. “Deeply pained by the unfortunate incident of cloudburst at Shri Amarnathji holy cave, in which precious lives have been lost. I send my heartfelt condolences to bereaved families,” he said, adding, “Rescue operation by NDRF, SDRF, BSF, Army, JKP & Shrine board admin is in progress.”

“Rescue work is underway. Army helicopters are also in action. Search operation is on,” Nitishwar Kumar, CEO of Amarnath Shrine Board said.

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Meanwhile, National Conference expressed shock and grief over the tragic loss of lives at a base camp for the Amarnath pilgrimage due to the cloudburst. “May the deceased rest in peace. Our condolences go out to those who lost their loved ones. Prayers for the speedy recovery of those injured,” NC said in a tweet.

PDP chief and former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said she was saddened and shocked to know about the tragic cloudburst accident near the Amarnath cave. “Deepest condolences to the families of those who lost their lives,” she said in a tweet.

CPI (M) leader Mohamad Yousuf Tarigami also expressed deep shock and grief over the cloudburst incident. While expressing solidarity with the bereaved families, he asked the administration to gear up the rescue operation at the site and demanded ex-gratia relief for the victim families and free-of-cost treatment for those injured in the accident.

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