Press Trust of India

Four Amarnath pilgrims die, toll in this year’s yatra reaches 30

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Srinagar: Four Amarnath pilgrims have died over the past 24 hours en route the holy cave shrine in south Kashmir Himalayas, taking the death toll in this year’s pilgrimage to 30, officials said on Wednesday.
“While three pilgrims died on Tuesday, one more pilgrim died this morning due to various causes during their pilgrimage to the cave of Amarnath,” they said.
The officials said the death toll in this year’s pilgrimage has now gone up to 30, which included 26 pilgrims, two sevadars (volunteers) and two security forces personnel deployed on duty en route the holy cave.
In addition to these, 40 others have been taken ill or sustained injuries due to shooting stones and other causes since the pilgrimage began on July 1, they said.
Deaths due to cardiac arrest triggered by lack of oxygen in the area around the cave shrine have been common over the years, prompting the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board to issue regular health advisories to the pilgrims.
All pilgrims are required to get a fitness certificate from a doctor before undertaking the pilgrimage to the cave shrine located at an altitude of 3,888 metres.
Nearly 2.96 lakh pilgrims have paid obeisance to the naturally formed ice-lingam in the cave shrine in the 24 days of the pilgrimage.
The number of pilgrims who have paid obeisance at the cave shrine this year is already higher than the 2.83 lakh of last year.
Meanwhile, the 23rd batch of 2,723 Amarnath pilgrims left Bhagwati Nagar base camp here to undertake the pilgrimage.
The pilgrims, including 626 women, five children and 141 sadhus (saints), left for the Valley in a fleet of 100 vehicles under tight security cover in the early hours, officials said.
They are expected to reach the twin base camps of Pahalgam in Anantnag district and Baltal in Ganderbal district later in the day, the officials added.
The yatra, which started from the traditional 36-km Pahalgam route and shorter 14-km Baltal route on July 1, was progressing smoothly and so far 2,96,302 pilgrims have offered their prayers at the 3,880-metre high holy cave, housing the naturally formed ice-shivlingam, they said.
Of the latest batch, the officials said, 1,476 pilgrims, including including 220 women, one child and 141 sadhus, are heading for Pahalgam base camp, while the rest of 1,247, including 406 women and four children, would perform the yatra from Baltal track.
The yatra, which is scheduled to end on August 15 coinciding with the Raksha Bandhan festival, had crossed the last year’s figure of 2.85 lakh on the 22nd day of the yatra Monday evening.
As many as 3,52,771 pilgrims had performed the yatra in 2015, 3,20,490 pilgrims in 2016 and 2,60,003 yatris in 2017. (PTI)

Press Trust of India

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