India’s Amarnath Yatra resumes on Monday after 16 die in flash floods


India’s famed religious event, the Amarnath Yatra, which was partially suspended after flash floods triggered by a cloudburst incident killed 16 and injured dozens more last Friday, resumed Monday morning local time.

A fresh batch of Amarnath pilgrims began to move from the Jammu base camp, authorities said Monday. The ‘Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board’ issued a statement Sunday the yatra will begin from the Nunwan Pahalgam side. The stranded pilgrims were waiting at the Baltal base camp for the yatra to recommence.

Authorities said an additional 34 injured pilgrims were evacuated by the Indian Air Force (IAF) using Mi-17 V5 and Cheetal helicopters. IAF helicopters also airlifted 20 National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel along with six canines to search for missing persons that may be trapped under debris. The Cheetal helicopters flew 45 sorties carrying 3.5 tonnes of relief material while evacuating 45 survivors from the holy cave.

Amarnath Temple is a Hindu shrine located in Jammu and Kashmir. The cave is situated at an altitude of 3,888 m (12,756 ft), about 88 mi from Srinagar. The shrine represents an important part of Hinduism. The cave, located in Lidder Valley, is surrounded by glaciers, snowy mountains and is covered with snow most of the year, except for a short period of time in summer when it is open to pilgrims.

The Indian Army deployed radars Sunday to trace survivors. “Xaver 4000 radar has been inducted and has been operational at Amarnath since late noon for finding any survivors under the debris,” an Indian Army statement said.

Earlier, Lieutenant Governor (LG) of Jammu and Kashmir Manoj Sinha visited a base camp in Pahalgam Sunday and met with pilgrims.

“Security personnel and administration carried out an efficient rescue operation,” Sinha said. “We pay condolences to those who lost their lives. Efforts are underway to resume the Yatra along with repairing the path. Pilgrims should come, we will provide them with all facilities.”

Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB) officials said 35 pilgrims were discharged by Saturday after essential treatment for their injuries. “All are safe and healthy,” a statement said.

Critically injured patients, meanwhile, were airlifted to Srinagar, 101 km west of the Yatra base camp. “Two buried persons were rescued,” said Kuldiep Singh, director general of the Central Reserve Police Force.”