NEW DELHI/ SRINAGAR: Three days after the tragedy struck the Amarnath Yatris near the holy cave, Shri Amarnath Ji Shrine Board estimated that over 40 people are still missing.
Sources in Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), who are involved in rescue operations with other agencies, told The New Indian that a total of 47 RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags are still missing. Interestingly, RFID tags are introduced this year main as a means to keep a tab on the movement of people on the yatra routes as a security measure following threats from terrorists.
Meanwhile, 35 pilgrims, from a group of 37 pilgrims from Andhra Pradesh, have been traced. The search is still on for the remaining two.
“From a group of 37 pilgrims from Andhra Pradesh, who were missing after the cloudburst hit lower Amarnath cave shrine on Friday, 35 have been traced. They were safely on their way to their respective destinations,” an official in the knowhow told The New Indian in Srinagar.
Officials said that two pilgrims from Andhra Pradesh – Gunishetty Sudha and Kotha Parvathi belonging to the Rajahmundry area of the state – are still missing. Efforts are on to trace them.
Apart from ITBP, teams from Indian Armed Forces, Border Security Force (BSF), NDRF, SDRF and Jammu and Kashmir Police are involved in rescue operations.
ITBP sources said that the rescue teams are facing a tough challenge with silt and debris that rolled down from the mountains with flash floods following the cloudburst in Amarnath on Friday.
According to an ITBP officer, a huge quantity of silt has been frozen and stranded over half a kilometre alongside Sheshnag and Chandanwari which is making search and rescue efforts harder for the agencies.
“On Monday, till 8 pm no missing person could be found. But the search will continue to trace the missing pilgrims,” the officer said.
LG Manoj Sinha on Monday visited Chandanwari to review arrangements for the ongoing yatra session. During his visit, Sinha reviewed arrangements, medical facilities and preparations in view of any exigency.
Sinha also visited the DRDO hospital and inspected the facilities. He also interacted with doctors and safaiwalas and encouraged them to keep doing the good work.
Meanwhile, Air Commodore of the Indian Air Force, Pankaj Mittal said that a major part of the rescue operation has been completed at the holy cave.
He said that IAF carried out a total of 112 missions so far during the rescue operation at the Amarnath Cave and 130 people including 123 injured and seven dead bodies were carried from Holy cave and Panjtarni area and Baltal.
He said that 29 tons of load which include equipment, NDRF rescue teams, engineers, dog squad etc were flown to the Holy Cave area during this operation.
“The holy Amarnath valley, being very narrow with limited aerospace, was tough for the massive scale rescue mission. But IAF managed all the things and conducted the rescue mission successfully,” Air Commodore Mittal said.
Mittal further said that the initial operation was very challenging as the weather was a major hurdle because of which they couldn’t start operations on the evening of July 8 when the tragedy took place.
He added that the operation started the next morning and despite weather challenges, they managed to operate and conduct the rescue operation successfully.
Meanwhile, GOC Kilo Force, SS Salaria visited the calamity site and took a first-hand account of the progress of rescue and resuscitation operations.
“Operations are progressing on war footage to assist the civil administration in restoring Yatra in a record time frame,” Army said here. “On special request of the Shrine Board, the Army has created a shunt on the Yatra track, against the flow of nalas.”
“Scanning and excavation of suspected sites consisting of rocks and debris, as also glaciated patches in the Amarnath Nala is being done with state-of-the-art Radars,” Army said. “The rescue operation including medical treatment of affected yatris and their further evacuation is being carried out.”
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