Cloudburst kills three at Amarnath camp

Massive relief and rescue operation launched to save trapped pilgrims

Srinagar: The army, on Saturday, launched a massive relief and rescue operation at the Baltal base camp of the Amarnath yatra where at least three people were killed and seven went missing following a cloudburst late on Friday night.

Army and CRPF treat rescued pilgrims after cloudburst at Baltal
Army and CRPF treat rescued pilgrims after cloudburst at Baltal

“The army has launched a massive relief and rescue operation to save the pilgrims trapped in the landslide at Baltal,” confirmed defence ministry spokesman Lt Col NN Joshi in Srinagar. Army officials said efforts were on to reopen the yatra route.

A vehicle stuck in the slush and mud after cloudbursts. Pic/PTIA vehicle stuck in the slush and mud after cloudbursts. Pic/PTI

“There were cloudburst-triggered landslides at three places between Baltal gate and Rangamor,” Joshi said. Soldiers from the 19 Garhwal Regiment have begun a search of the area. A Quick Reaction Team (QRT) of the 24 Rashtriya Rifles has also reached Sonamarg along with rescue parties from the nearby Gagangir camp.

An army officer said 17 tents and many vehicles were buried under the slush and bulldozers were deployed by the army to clear the roads, along with manual effort. The cloudburst in Baltal resulted in the death of two children Pooja, the 13-year-old daughter of Prakash, a resident of Rajasthan; and Vikram, the 12-year-old son of Kailash, also a resident of Rajasthan.

A third body was found later. Nine people were injured, 780 shifted to an army camp, 1,500 pilgrims taken to Bhandvas while 12 shops have been washed away, the defence spokesperson said. Of the injured, one critically wounded person was airlifted to Srinagar for specialised treatment.

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