Cloudburst near Amarnath base camp leaves 3 dead

RSTV Bureau

Baltal: Vehicles stuck in the slush and mud after cloudbursts at Baltal near the base camp of Amarnath Yatra on Saturday. ( PTI- Photo )

Three people have been killed and 19 others have been injured after a cloudburst struck near the base camp of Amarnath yatra. The calamity occured along the 16-km Baltal route to the cave shrine in central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district. Of the three people dead, two of them were children.

“So far three bodies were recovered which include that of a girl, aged 13 and a boy, aged 12. At least 19 others have sustained injuries and two have gone missing,” an official said.

Two more people are said to be missing after the cloudburst last night. Search and rescue operations have been launched to find them. People critically injured were evacuated by helicopters.

However, the yatra is going on smoothly from the much more difficult track along with the traditional 45-km Pahalgam route in Anantnag district.

Jammu and Kashmir Governor N N Vohra also announced an ex-gratia relief of Rs one lakh each to the next of kin of three persons killed in a cloudburst near the Baltal base camp for the Amarnath yatra in Ganderbal district of central Kashmir.

Vohra, who is also chairman of the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB), which manages the affairs of the annual yatra, announced the relief while chairing a high level meeting convened at Raj Bhavan to take stock of the situation arising out of heavy rains and cloudburst in Baltal area, an official spokesman said.

Authorities have allowed over 1000 pilgrims to proceed towards the shrine from the Baltal base camp.

“The cloudburst struck near the Baltal base camp and water entered some tents there,” the officials said, adding that those present at the camp were moved to safety after the cloudburst.

The officials said that those who died were not pilgrims, but people camping at Baltal to earn livelihoods.

The officials identified them as cobbler Deepak Kumar (35) of Delhi and shoe shiners Pooja and Vikram, both residents of Rajasthan.

Several people are said to be stuck on the Srinagar-Leh highway which was closed last night following the flash floods.

On Saturday morning, 11 persons were reported missing but majority of them reported to the base hospital in the day. One of them was found in a critical condition and was taken to Srinagar for specialised treatment, the officials said.

(With inputs from PTI)