At least 16 people died as a result of cloudbursts and torrential flash floods during the annual Hindu pilgrimage to the Amarnath Cave sanctuary in Kashmir, India. Dozens of people are considered missing. A rescue operation is in progress.
Flash floods were caused by heavy rainfall on Friday. At least 16 people were killed (the previous report mentioned 13 killed), and several dozen are missing – this is the latest data, provided by the authorities on Saturday. The element attacked near the Himalayan Hindu cave sanctuary of Amarnath in Indian Kashmir.
“Both military and civilian helicopters are constantly circulating to evacuate the wounded and take the dead,” said Indian Defense Ministry spokesman in Srinagara, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir.
The pilgrimage has been suspended
During their annual pilgrimage, tens of thousands of Hindu devotees make the difficult journey through glaciers and wetlands to reach the cave. According to the faithful, there is an icy stalagmite that grows and decreases according to the phases of the moon, worshiped by the faithful as Shiva-lingam.
The authorities suspended the pilgrimage until further notice.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his condolences on Twitter to the relatives of the victims of the cataclysm.
After a two-year break
The oldest references to the cult of Amarnath are found in the Puranas, or in the scriptures of Hinduism. According to the myths, it was in this cave that the god Shiva revealed to his divine consort Parvati the secrets of life and the universe.
The cave is covered with snow most of the year, but authorities allow pilgrims to visit it for 45 days in summer as rising temperatures clear the passes.
This year’s pilgrimage follows a two-year hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The authorities expected a record number of 800,000 pilgrims. In the first 10 days, 60,000 people came.
Main photo source: PAP / EPA / FAROOQ KHAN