Amarnath Yatra flashflood: LG says rescue ops called off; 15 dead, none missing
STATE TIMES NEWS
Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha on Thursday said the rescue operations launched following a flashflood near the Amarnath cave shrine — that left 15 people dead — has been called off and there was no report of any person missing.
Referring to reports about several persons missing in the aftermath of the flashflood on July 8, Sinha said the helpline number of Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board had received about 200 calls and it took some time to track the yatris as their mobile phones were switched off.
Fifteen pilgrims have lost their lives and all have been identified. Fifty-five persons were injured and all, except two, have been discharged and have gone home, Sinha told reporters at the Raj Bhavan here.
The Lt Governor said the two injured were undergoing treatment at SKIMS Soura here and their condition is stated to be stable.
I hope they will also be discharged in a few days, he said, adding that 14 bodies were sent to their families in different states while the cremation of one was done here by the family.
Yatra suspended due to bad weather
Srinagar: Amarnath Yatra was suspended on both routes on Thursday due to bad weather as rains lashed the Kashmir Valley, officials said.
The yatra was temporarily suspended from Pahalgam as well as Baltal routes in the morning and no pilgrim was allowed to move towards the holy cave shrine, they said.
The officials said the yatra will resume after the weather improves. Earlier, the yatra was stopped for three days following a cloudburst on July 8 which left 16 people dead and over 30 missing. It had resumed via the Pahalgam route on Monday and through the Baltal route on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, amid tight security, another batch of over 5,000 pilgrims on left the Bhagwati Nagar base camp here this morning to offer prayers at the 3,880-metre-high holy cave shrine of Amarnath in south Kashmir Himalayas, officials said.
The 15th batch comprising 5,449 pilgrims left in a convoy of 201 vehicles for the twin base camps of Nunwan-Pahalgam and Baltal in the early hours, they said.
The officials said 1,666 pilgrims including 536 women and 43 children heading for Baltal in 61 vehicles were the first to leave the Bhagwati Nagar camp around 3.20 am, followed by the second convoy of 140 vehicles for Pahalgam, carrying 3,783 pilgrims including 702 women, 103 sadhus and 54 children at around 4.20 am.
So far, over 1.45 lakh pilgrims have offered their prayers at the cave shrine, housing the naturally-formed ice-shivlingam, despite a three-day suspension in the wake of flash floods triggered by heavy rains near the cave shrine on July 8 which left 16 people dead.
A total of 88,526 pilgrims have left the Bhagwati Nagar base camp for the Valley since June 29, the day the first batch of pilgrims was flagged off by Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha. The officials said eleven pilgrims have also died mostly due to health conditions during the yatra, which is scheduled to end on August 11 on the occasion of Shravan Purnima’ coinciding with Raksha Bandhan.
He said the administration was in touch with all the state governments and as of now no person was missing.
We have been in touch with principal resident commissioners of all the states and when there was a need, we even spoke to concerned deputy commissioners, and I can tell you that largely we do not have any inputs about any person missing, Sinha said.
He said the rescue operation which was on since July 8 has largely been called off.
No new dead body was found and the operation has been called off, he added.
On the allegations that the administration did not take adequate measures in the wake of a flashflood last year, Sinha said the flow pattern of both the flashfloods — last year as well as the one in 2015 — was kept in mind and the irrigation and flood control department erected a wall there. I have spoken to many experts, had that bund not been there, the disaster could have been worse, he added.
Referring to PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti’s remarks that the government had allowed more yatris than recommended, Sinha said the Supreme Court had formed a committee of experts and on the basis of the discussions by the committee, the decision on the number of pilgrims was taken.
Two years before, 7,500 people were permitted through both sides. Last year, the shrine board improved the facilities and with the result, it was decided to allow 10,000 yatris from both the axis and this decision is being fully implemented.
I can tell you that this year, attempts have been made to improve the infrastructure and the facilities. We have tried to take feedback from the yatris as well, the Lt Governor said.
Sinha said with the support of the locals, the yatra is going on in a right manner and so far, about 1.5 lakh pilgrims have had darshan’ at the cave shrine.
I am thankful of the locals who showed sensitivity and guided the yatris that day. They provided all help to them, he said, adding it remains to be seen as to how many more yatris will come .
The LG said all the yatris have a Rs 5 lakh insurance cover.
Apart from that, the next of kin of those who died will be provided another Rs 5 lakh by the shrine board, he said.
Sinha said the administration has requested the surveyor general of India to work on the digital contour mapping around the cave.
We are in touch with experts on what other steps need to be taken, he added.