Rescue dogs

Amarnath yatra tragedy: Launch of a massive search operation; “Through Wall Radars”, rescue dogs put into service

Srinagar: A massive search and rescue operation has been launched to find missing pilgrims in Amarnath Cave even as the death toll rose to 14 this morning.

“Fourteen confirmed dead. Nine wounded were evacuated. Nearly 500 patients were treated for minor injuries overnight. The aerial sorties are launched. Another rescue operation is underway,” said Dr Mir Mushtaq Ahmad, spokesperson for the Ministry of Health.

Tragedy befell Amarnath Yatra when a downpour triggered flash floods in Kali Mata near the Y-junction of the Sacred Cave Shrine on Friday night. At least 25 tents were taken away.

The NDRF, Army, Police, CRPF, ITBP, SDRF and other agencies are involved in the search operation. Rescuers use the latest gadgets to locate missing people. Sniffer dogs have also been put into operation to help with rescue operations

“We are moving additional resources from Bathinda and they are being airlifted including our canine team so they can sniff out live victims wherever they are and some more equipment needed for this situation and hand – additional artwork is also sent. All this is flown to Srinagar and then it will be transported by helicopter to the location. So that the team can be reinforced with exactly what they need,” an officer said.

The military sent two “Through Wall Radars” and 2 search and rescue dogs to the sacred cave for the rescue operation.

Officials said the search operation continued until 4:30 p.m. and was suspended for some time due to rains. It was picked up again.

Officials said the Yatra has been temporarily suspended.

The 43-day Amarnath Pilgrimage started on June 30 and more than 90,000 pilgrims paid their respects at the holy cave shrine.

Located at an altitude of 3,888 meters, the sacred cave of Amarnath is accessible from two routes in the valley of Kashmir. The 46 km Pahalgam-Holy Cave trek is an ancient pilgrimage route covered in five days. There is Lord Shiva’s ice lingam which naturally forms and waxes and wanes with the moon. The new 14 kilometer Baltal-Holy cave route is now preferred by pilgrims as it is shorter but steep and the trip can be completed in one day.