5 Dead, several injured in cloudburst near Amarnath Cave; rescue operations underway

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5 Dead, several injured in cloudburst near Amarnath Cave; rescue operations underway

JAMMU, JUL 08

At least five persons were killed in a cloudburst near the holy cave shrine of Amarnath in south Kashmir Himalayas Friday evening, damaging 25 tents and three community kitchens, officials said.

The cloudburst struck around 5.30 pm amid heavy rainfall, they said.

The gushing waters hit the base camp outside the shrine, damaging 25 tents and three community kitchens where the pilgrims are served food, they said.

Five persons — three women and two men — were killed in the incident even as police, army and ITBP personnel launched a rescue operation, the officials said.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah said he has spoken to Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha and inquired about the situation.

“NDRF, CRPF, BSF and local administration are engaged in the rescue work. Saving people’s lives is our priority,” he said.

Kashmir IGP Vijay Kumar said that some langars and tents came under the cloudburst or flash floods at Holy Cave. “Injured are being airlifted for treatment. The situation is under control,” he added.

It has been told by the ITBP that after heavy rains, a large amount of water suddenly came down from the top of the Amarnath cave. During this, about 25 tents and 2 langars were destroyed. Now the rain has stopped and relief work is being done at a rapid pace. Helicopters have also been dispatched immediately for the rescue operation.

However, One-way traffic movement resumed on the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway after remaining suspended for several hours since Friday morning following landslides triggered by heavy rain in Ramban district, officials said.

National Highway was closed for vehicular traffic due to landslides triggered by heavy rain at several places in Ramban district on Friday, officials said.

Vehicles carrying Amarnath Yatra pilgrims, that were stranded on the highway, have been allowed to move towards Kashmir, they said.

 “The traffic on one way of the highway has been restored and Amarnath Yatra pilgrims taking the Baltal route, who were stranded at Chanderkoot in Ramban since morning, have been allowed to move,” an official said.

The landslides and mudslides have been cleared, he said.

The 270-km highway, the only all-weather road linking Kashmir with rest of the country, was blocked by shooting stones, landslides and mudslides at places in Ramban district, they said.

Earlier, Deputy Superintendent of police (headquarters) Ramban, Pardeep Sain, who is also the yatra officer at Chanderkoot, had said that heavy showers lashed the Ramban sector between 3 and 4 am.

He had said that the highway was closed at Mehaar, Cafeteria Mode, Chamba, Anokhifall, Kelamode, and Pantiyal.

Work on clearing the highway has begun and it will take at least two to three hours for the restoration of traffic movement, he added.

A non-fatal incident of house collapse was reported from Ramban district, while five people trapped in flash floods in river Ans in Reasi district were rescued by the police, officials said.

Several roads in Ramban and Udhampur districts were closed for the second consecutive day today, while the traffic on the Mughal Road, which connects the twin districts of Poonch and Rajouri in the Jammu region with south Kashmir’s Shopian district, was also suspended due to landslides.

“The shuttering of under-construction Peerah bridge was washed away due to heavy rains (on the highway)”, a police official said, adding that the one which is normally used for traffic is safe.

Many machines were involved in the work to restore the road patch swept away in the flash floods in the Tawi river.

“Chances of road opening today are minimum. There are no reports of any loss of life”, they said.

The situation at Battery Cheshma on the highway is bad as a lot of mud is to be cleared to ensure that heavy vehicles trapped in it are cleared, they said.

The road connecting Khari to Mahoo and Khari to Nachlana was blocked due to mudslide and shooting stones and part of the road sank at Hirnihaal, they said, adding the people are again advised not to venture out.

According to some reports, over 1,000 vehicles are stranded at various places along the highway.

As the highway continues to be closed for traffic, stranded passengers were provided with food and medical facilities, they said. It is still raining in the Ramsoo-Ramban sector as of now, the officials said.

The Mughal Road is blocked due to landslides at Poshana while the SSG road is blocked at Chini nallah and efforts are on to clear them, they said.

However, heavy rains are hindering the cleaning operation, the officials said.

The deputy commissioners of Ramban and Kishtwar districts have also ordered the closure of all educational institutions up to higher secondary level including private schools for the day, an official said.

“All schools across Ramban district, including higher secondary schools, shall remain closed today in view of the heavy rainfall and overflowing of nallahs and mudslides at several locations,” Deputy Commissioner Ramban Mussarat Islam said in a tweet.

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