India cloudburst: Flash floods kill 10 at Kashmir pilgrimage site

At least 10,000 people were assembled near Amarnath shrine when the rains struck

Rescue operation underway near Amarnath shrine in Pahalgam on Friday. –ANI
Rescue operation underway near Amarnath shrine in Pahalgam on Friday. –ANI


Published: Fri 8 Jul 2022, 10:08 PM

Last updated: Fri 8 Jul 2022, 10:55 PM

Ten people died and several were missing Friday after flash floods triggered by a sudden cloudburst struck a camp near a popular shrine in Kashmir.

Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims from across the country trek up through Himalayan passes each year to visit the Amarnath shrine, located at an altitude of 3,900 metres (12,800 feet).

At least 10,000 people were assembled near the site when the rains struck, officials said.

Police in Kashmir said 10 deaths had been confirmed and that injured pilgrims had been airlifted to hospital.

Around two dozen tents and three large kitchens that serve free food to the pilgrims were washed away in the deluge, an official from the local disaster management agency told AFP.

"Several are missing and a huge rescue operation is underway," the official added.

The pilgrimage to the shrine is being held for the first time since 2019 because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In 1996, 243 pilgrims died while travelling the arduous, days-long journey to the shrine when snowstorms hit the area.

Meanwhile, Union Home minister Amit Shah took note of the situation and said saving the lives of people was priority.

He also had a word with the Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, Manoj Sinha and said that rescue operations were underway.

"I have spoken with Jammu and Kashmir LG Manoj Sinha pertaining to flash floods triggered by a cloudburst at Amarnath Cave. NDRF, SDRF, BSF & local admin are doing the rescue work. Our priority is to save the lives of people," tweeted Shah.

Informing about the incident ITBP PRO Vivek Kumar Pandey said, "The Amarnath Yatra has been suspended till the situation turned normal. it is likely to resume tomorrow."

According to the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) officials, the cloudburst occurred at the lower cave (Amarnath) at around 5.30pm.

A senior ITBP official said that water came from above and sides of the cave after it rained heavily at the upper reaches. The rain has stopped for now.

A team of Central Armed Police Force and the Indian Army acted swiftly and carried out the evacuation operation, which is currently underway.

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