Amarnath flash floods: 16 dead, 40 missing in ; yatra on hold

Search and rescue operation near the holy Amarnath cave in the Himalayan mountains continued on Saturday, a day after a flash flood and landslide hit a camp of pilgrims, killing at least 16 people.

More than 40 people are still reported missing, even as survivors said they felt like a mountain was falling with mud and water and that they would all be buried under.

Shubham Verma from Bihar said he ran away to safety from his tent near the cave, when the monstrous stream of muddy water and rocks trailed him.

“I wasn’t able to perform puja and darshan. I will go back home disappointed, but managed to save my life,” Verma said.

Authorities have suspended the yatra towards the cave and a decision on its resumption is likely to be made in a day or two. Around 1,00,000 pilgrims have already visited the cave till now and a batch of around 6,000 yatris travelled from Jammu to Anantnag on Saturday.

J&K lieutenant governor Manoj Sinha chaired a high-level meeting to review the ongoing rescue and relief operation. “I request yatris to stay put in camps. Administration is providing all facilities for their comfortable stay … We are trying our best to restore the yatra at the earliest,” said Sinha.

As of now, officials said 16 persons lost their lives and 40-50 people were still missing.

Meanwhile, Jammu & Kashmir National Conference president Farooq Abdullah urged the government to order an inquiry to ascertain how the tents and community kitchens were set up in a highly vulnerable area. “It is for the first time tents were placed there. Maybe this can be a human error,” said Abdullah.

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