Natural Disasters

At least 8 dead in cloudburst at Amarnath Cave in Kashmir

Death toll is expected to rise, authorities said

By Rajat Ghai
Published: Friday 08 July 2022

At least eight people have died after a cloudburst occurred at 5.30 pm at the Amarnath Cave Shrine near Pahalgam in south Kashmir July 8, 2022. The death toll is expected to rise, according to authorities.

Read Down To Earth’coverage of cloudbursts

There are also reports of people missing. The flash flood caused by the cloudburst swept away several tents and community kitchens at the site, according to Jammu and Kashmir Police.

The Jammu and Kashmir Police tweeted that injured people had been airlifted for treatment. Personnel from the state and National Disaster Response Force as well as the Indo-Tibetan Border Police are engaged in rescue operations at the site. 

The Amarnath Yatra had started June 30, after a gap of two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is to end August 11 on the day of Raksha Bandhan. The Yatra was temporarily suspended earlier this week due to bad weather.

A cloudburst is a local climatic phenomenon, according to experts. It can occur during heavy rainfall with size droplets 4-6 millimetres falling at a speed of 10 metres per second.

At least six people were reported missing after a cloudburst occurred near a tourist camp site in the Chhoj Panchayat of Himachal Pradesh’s Kullu district on the morning of July 6. The number of natural disasters in Himachal Pradesh has risen after the southwest monsoon entered the state June 29.

AP Dimri, an environemntal sciences expert and professor, who is currently on deputation from Jawaharlal Nehru University to the Indian Institute of Geomagnetism, Mumbai, told Down To Earth that incidences of cloudbursts have increased in the past one decade.

The primary reason behind this is rising temperatures which, in turn, have led to an increase in precipitation across the Himalayas, he added.

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