Today: Jun 19, 2024

LG confirms 15 deaths in Amarnath Yatra flashflood

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Srinagar: Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha on Thursday confirmed the final count of those killed in the flashflood near the Amarnath cave shrine as “15 people dead, none missing”, and said the rescue operation has been called off.

Referring to reports about several persons missing in the aftermath of the flashflood on July 08, Sinha said the helpline number of the Shrine Board had received about 200 calls and it took some time to track the pilgrims as their mobile phones were switched off.

“Fifteen pilgrims have lost their lives and all have been identified. Fifty-five persons were injured and all, except two, have been discharged and have gone home,” Sinha told reporters at the Raj Bhavan here.

The LG said the two injured were undergoing treatment at SKIMS Soura here and their condition is stated to be stable.

“I hope they will also be discharged in a few days,” he said, adding that 14 bodies were sent to their families in different states while the cremation of one was done here by the family.

He said two local ponywalas who had suffered injuries in the incident have also been discharged from the hospital after treatment.

He said the administration was in touch with all the state governments and as of now no person was missing.

“We have been in touch with principal resident commissioners of all the states and when there was a need, we even spoke to concerned deputy commissioners, and I can tell you that largely we do not have any inputs about any person missing,” Sinha said.

He said the rescue operation which was on since July 08 has largely been called off.

“No new dead body was found and the operation has been called off,” he added.

On the allegations that the administration did not take adequate measures in the wake of a flashflood last year, Sinha said the flow pattern of both the flashfloods — last year as well as the one in 2015 — was kept in mind and the Irrigation and Flood Control department erected a wall there.

“I have spoken to many experts, had that bund not been there, the disaster could have been worse,” he added.

Referring to PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti’s remarks that the government had allowed more pilgrims than recommended, Sinha said the Supreme Court had formed a committee of experts and on the basis of the discussions by the committee, the decision on the number of pilgrims was taken.

“Two years before, 7,500 people were permitted through both sides. Last year, the Shrine Board improved the facilities and with the result, it was decided to allow 10,000 yatris from both the axis and this decision is being fully implemented.

“I can tell you that this year, attempts have been made to improve the infrastructure and the facilities. We have tried to take feedback from the yatris as well,” the LG said.

Sinha said with the support of the locals, the Yatra is going on in a right manner and so far, about 1.5 lakh pilgrims have had ‘darshan’ at the cave shrine.

“I am thankful of the locals who showed sensitivity and guided the yatris that day. They provided all help to them,” he said, adding “it remains to be seen as to how many more yatris will come”.

The LG said all the pilgrims have a Rs 5 lakh insurance cover.

“Apart from that, the next of kin of those who died will be provided another Rs 5 lakh by the Shrine Board,” he said.

Sinha said the administration has requested the Surveyor General of India to work on the digital contour mapping around the cave.

“We are in touch with experts on what other steps need to be taken,” he added. (With PTI inputs)