Cloudbursts damaged the Amarnath Yatra route in north Kashmir’s Baltal area on Friday night and left two pilgrims dead, nine injured and seven missing. Hundreds of pilgrims have been evacuated from the route so far.
The cloudbursts struck late on Friday night in Sonamarg’s Baltal area, 90 km north of Srinagar. The Baltal route, a 14-km trek to the Amarnath shrine and the shortest route, was hit at three places between Baltal Gate and Rangamor.
The army’s quick action team has started rescue operation in the area.
So far two bodies have been recovered. They have been identified as those of Pooja (13) and Vikram (12), both residents of Rajasthan.
As many as 780 civilians and 15,000 pilgrims have been shifted to safer places. Seven missing persons have been identified as Maiser Ahmed, Anil Sahu, Ashaq Sahid Mir, Reyaz Ahmed, Mushtaq Ahmed, Ramdevi, and Fayaz Ahmed Mir. Two among the missing are non-locals.
A vast area of Baltal was flooded with slush and water. Dozens of vehicles, including those used by pilgrims, were buried by landslides. At least 12 shops were washed away.
Srinagar-based army spokesman Col Brijesh Pandey said army engineers have reached the spot to assess the situation. The district administration has started a massive operation to trace the missing.
CLOUDBURSTS AT SAME SITE ON JULY 16 TOO
On July 16, multiple cloudbursts hit the same mountainous region and left two people dead. A large area was affected by the cloudburst and landslides at that time too.
On July 12, multiple cloudburst hit south Kashmir, including the yatra area of Pahalgam. Two people were killed in that incident.
Kashmir is witnessing unprecedented cloudbursts in residential areas this year. North, south and central Kashmir have already witnessed many this month.
WEATHER PHENOMENON TILL SEPTEMBER
Dr Shakil Romshoo, head of Earth Sciences, University of Kashmir, said, “The valley will witness cloudbursts till September. It occurs due to monsoon currents that originate from the Bay of Bengal. It mixes with local clouds abruptly as mountains act as a barrier.”
He said the reason behind the casualty is that people have started living in such areas. He, however, did not rule out the possibility of cloudbursts in the plains of Srinagar.