SRINAGAR: Two days after flash floods caused by a cloudburst claimed at least 16 lives near the Amarnath holy cave, hundreds of pilgrims resumed their yatra to the Lord Shiva shrine on Monday.
More than 2,000 pilgrims were allowed to move towards Chandanwari from the base camp in the morning. “A fresh batch of pilgrims has been allowed to proceed towards the holy cave from the Nunwan base camp of Pahalgam,” they said.
The annual pilgrimage, which started on June 30 after a gap of two years, takes place on two routes – the Baltal route and the Pahalgam route.
“The Amarnath yatra resumed from Yatri Niwas base camp in Jammu city on Monday morning. 3,010 pilgrims left for Pahalgam base camp at 4.30 am and 1,016 pilgrims left for Baltal base camp at 3.30 am,” the officials cited above said.
On Friday afternoon, a flash flood triggered by a cloudburst led to the death of at least 16 people. Around 38 people are still missing.
Though the Indian Army has pressed heavy machinery into service to restore the track to the holy cave of Amarnath, hopes of finding those missing alive are fading by the hour, even as the rescuers are making last-ditch efforts to look for any survivors.
It has put a question mark over the claims of the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) about the Radio Frequency Identification Tag (RFID) provided to yatris which seem to have not worked.
“The rescue operations are going on as personnel from various agencies are clearing the debris in the hope of finding any survivor,” officials of the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) said.
Most of the debris clearance is being done in the areas pointed at by sniffer dogs. The rescuers are also using hand-held thermal imagers and other sophisticated devices to check for any sign of life under the mounds of debris, one of the officials said, adding that finding anyone under the debris would be a “miracle”.
Army jawans are supplementing the efforts of JCB excavators in clearing the route to the cave housing a naturally formed Ice-Lingam.
The official, however, added that inclement weather can play spoilsport in the restoration efforts.
Officials said that over 3000 stranded pilgrims left from Panchtarni towards Baltal to leave for their native places on Monday. Many pilgrims have also reached Pahalgam to leave for their native places from Sheshnag and Panchtarni without performing darshan of Ice Lingam at the cave shrine following the tragedy.