Srinagar: Fifteen persons died and more than 40 are missing after flash floods triggered by a cloudburst near the holy cave shrine of Amarnath in south Kashmir Himalayas, which also ravaged the base camp on Friday evening, said a National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) official.
The incident has led to the temporary suspension of the Amarnath Yatra for this year. President Ram Nath Kovind, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi have offered their condolences to the bereaved families and said relief measures are in place to rescue those stranded.
“I am distressed to learn that a cloudburst near Amarnath shrine has claimed several lives. My condolences to the bereaved families. Relief and rescue measures are in full swing to provide succour to those stranded. I pray and hope that the yatra be soon resumed,” Kovind tweeted.
Modi, in his tweet, said: “Anguished by the cloud burst near Shree Amarnath cave. Condolences to the bereaved families. Spoke to @manojsinha_ Ji and took stock of the situation. Rescue and relief operations are underway. All possible assistance is being provided to the affected.”
The gushing waters hit the base camp outside the shrine, damaging 25 tents and three community kitchens where the pilgrims are served food at around 5.30 pm, an NDRF official. “One NDRF team is always deployed near the holy cave, it immediately engaged in the rescue work,” NDRF DG Atul Karwal said.
“One more team has been deployed & another is on its way,” the official added. IGP Kashmir Vijay Kumar said that the injured are being airlifted for treatment and the situation is under control.
Army sources said four more teams from Brarimarg company base and Sangam company base have joined the rescue operations at the Amarnath calamity and at present 10 teams are involved in the rescue works. Union Home minister Amit Shah who took note of the situation said saving the lives of people was on priority.
“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.
Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said he has prayed for the safety of those caught in the cloudburst. “Sorry to hear about the cloudburst near the Amarnath Cave. Prayers for everyone caught up in it with the hope that they are all able to escape unscathed,” the National Conference vice president tweeted.
Former J&K CM Mehbooba Mufti offered condolences to the families of those killed during the incident. “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,” the PDP chief said.
Earlier this week, the Yatra was briefly suspended due to bad weather. The pilgrimage began this year on June 30 after a two-year pandemic gap. Around one lakh pilgrims have offered their prayers at the shrine since then. The yatra is set to end on August 11 on the occasion of Raksha Bandhan.
NDRF Helpline No launched
NDRF helpline number can be contacted at +91-9711077372 and the SDRF J&K helpline can be reached at +91-194-2455165 and +91-9906967840. Amarnath Yatra Helpline Number (Divisional Control Room — Office of Divisional Commissioner Jammu) can be reached at 0191-2478993.