Thirteen people died after a cloudburst near the Amarnath cave in Kashmir, ANI reported, citing the Chief Medical Officer of Ganderbal, A Shah. More casualties are feared.
The cloudburst occurred around 5.30 pm on Friday, resulting in heavy discharge of water in a canal adjoining the cave.
The injured persons are being treated at base hospitals at the Upper Holy Cave, Lower Holy Cave, Panjtarni and other nearby health facilities.
Inspector General of Police, Kashmir Range, Vijay Kumar said that the National Disaster Response Force was conducting rescue operations. The injured persons were being airlifted for treatment, he added.
Six teams are engaged in rescue efforts, and two search and rescue dog squads have been inducted into the operation, the Army said.
Kumar Pandey, public relations officer of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police said that the cloudburst occurred in the upper reaches of the caves, ANI reported. “There were tents at the site...People were taken out within 10-15 minutes,” he added.
The Amarnath Yatra has been stopped temporarily due to the area being inundated, he said.
“If the weather remains normal and makeshift arrangements are made, then the yatra can be resumed tomorrow,” he added.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed grief. “Rescue and relief operations are underway,” he wrote in a tweet. “All possible assistance is being provided to the affected.”
Union Home Minister Amit Shah said that various agencies have been deployed in the rescue work. “Saving people’s lives is our priority,” he added. “I wish all the devotees well.”
Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha said that he was closely monitoring the situation. He said that the Central Reserve Police Force has been engaged in rescue and relief operations, and helicopters have been pressed into action for rescuing injured persons.