India’s Meteorological Department said on Friday that the deaths and destruction near the Amarnath cave shrine in south Kashmir were due to a ‘highly localized rain event’.
But was it really a downpour? Well, according to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), the tragedy was not actually caused by a downpour, but by ‘very localized rainfall’.
At least 15 people were killed, and tents and soup kitchens near the shrine were inundated with mud and rocks that rushed down after a spell of rain. According to multiple reports, rainfall of 31 mm was reported at the sanctuary between 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
“It was a very localized cloud just over the sacred cave. Such rain also occurred earlier this year. It was not a flash flood,” said Sonam Lotus, who heads the Regional Meteorological Center in Srinagar that looks after the Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh TUs, according to the IANS report.
Deepak Chouhan, a Hardoi pilgrim from Uttar Pradesh, told the ANI news agency: ‘A stampede-like situation happened there, but the Army was very supportive. Many pandals were swept away by the water.’
Another Sumit pilgrim from Maharashtra said, ‘The floods caused by the downpour washed away a lot of stones. We were two kilometers from the location of the downpour.’
Another pilgrim said, ‘When the downpour came, we couldn’t believe it. After a while, we only saw water and water. We were a group of seven or eight people, by the grace of Bholenath, we were all saved. However, we all had a harrowing experience as we saw people and bags being swept away by the water.’
‘Within 10 minutes of the downpour, eight casualties were reported. A large number of stones were washed away by the water. There were approximately 15,000 pilgrims who came for the pilgrimage. The pilgrims continued to come despite the heavy rain,’ he added.
ITBP spokesperson Vivek Panda told news agency PTI on Saturday, ‘We have received information from the local administration that around 30-40 people may be missing. We are working with ITBC, Army, NDRF, SDRF and Jammu and Kashmir Police. We are working. We can find many missing people from the cave area.’
Earlier, NDRF DG Atul Karwal said on Friday, ‘Hope the water flow will reduce but we are ready for any situation. According to reports, 10 people have been confirmed dead and three people have been rescued alive.’
According to the Jammu and Kashmir Police, some langars and tents have come in the grip of sudden floods due to cloudburst.
Atul Karwal said, ‘NDRF team is stationed near the cave, that team immediately started the rescue work. Two teams are nearby, one of which has reached there and has started work. According to the NDRF staff present there, 10 people have been confirmed dead and three people have been evacuated alive.
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