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Cloudburst in Amarnath cave: 13 dead, over 40 injured

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Pahalgam, July 8: A cloudburst was reported around the lower reaches of Amarnath cave at around 5.30 pm on Friday, killing at least 13 and leaving over 40 injured.

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    Cloudburst in Amarnath cave: 13 dead, over 40 injured

    "As of now, over 40 people are injured & 13 dead. We've made all arrangements here for the injured. Till now, we've not received any patients here. 28 doctors, 98 paramedics, 16 ambulances are present here. SDRF teams also present," news agency ANI quoted Dr A Shah, CMO Ganderbal, J&K, as saying.

    NDRF Director General Atul Karwal told PTI that a team of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) was based in the affected area even as two more teams from nearby locations of Barari Marg and Panchtarni have reached there.

    "We have three teams comprising about 75 rescuers in action right now," Karwal said. Meanwhile, an official of the union territory administration said that the Amarnath yatra, which began on June 30, has been temporarily suspended in view of the tragedy, adding a decision on its resumption will be taken after rescue operations end. The cloudburst struck around 5.30 pm amid heavy rainfall, officials said.

    According to the automatic weather station at the holy cave, the area received 31 mm rainfall from 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm. The gushing waters hit the base camp outside the shrine, damaging 25 tents and three community kitchens where the pilgrims are served food, according to officials.

    "It was a highly localised cloud only over the holy cave. Such rain had happened earlier this year as well. No flash flood," said Sonam Lotus, director of J&K's meteorological department. Karwal said 13 people were killed in the cloudburst that triggered flash floods, adding all the security forces and NDRF rescuers present in the area are working to ensure that relief and rescue operations are conducted for as long as required.

    ITBP spokesperson Vivek Kumar Pandey said all the forces are working tirelessly to ensure each and every missing person is accounted for.

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his anguish over the incident and tweeted, "Anguished by the cloud burst near Shree Amarnath cave. Condolences to the bereaved families. Spoke to
    @manojsinha_ Ji and took stock of the situation. Rescue and relief operations are underway. All possible assistance is being provided to the affected. [sic]"

    Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha said that he has briefed about the incident to the Prime Minister and Union Home Minister Amit Shah. "Our priority is to save the lives of people. Instructions have been issued to provide all necessary assistance to pilgrims. I am closely monitoring the situation," he tweeted.

    Expressing his condolence, he posted, "Deeply pained by unfortunate incident of cloudburst at Shri Amarnathji holy cave, in which precious lives have been lost. I send my heartfelt condolences to bereaved families. Rescue operation by NDRF, SDRF, BSF, Army, JKP & Shrine board admin is in progress."

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