Vijayawada/ Tirupati Two Amarnath pilgrims—both women—from Andhra Pradesh were confirmed missing after the July 8 cloudburst-triggered flash flood near the cave shrine in south Kashmir’s Anantnag, while contact with 28 others is yet to be established, a senior government official said on Sunday.
The whereabouts of the 28 people are not immediately known, authorities said, adding that efforts were on to contact them.
Attempts to contact them over their cell phones did not succeed as they were switched off. Earlier, officials said 35 people had gone missing, but later clarified that seven of them had been traced. State government officials confirmed that two women from Rajamahendravaram, part of a 20-member pilgrim group, were missing.
Identifying the women as Gunisetty Sudha of T Nagar and Kotha Parvathi of Annapurnamma Peta, officials added that their husbands Kiran and Markendeyulu, respectively, escaped with minor injuries.
Contacts were yet to be established with 28 more pilgrims from West Godavari, Nellore, Eluru, and East Godavari. Referring to a list received from the shrine authorities, senior IAS officer A Babu said 867 pilgrims from Andhra went to Amarnath.
Parvathi’s brother Srinivas Rao said the group of pilgrims had left for Delhi by AP Express on July 1, and from the national capital, they proceeded to Amarnath. “We have not received any information about my sister and the other woman, Sudha,” he said, while expressing hope for their safe return.
Sudha’s son Tarun said he last received a phone call from his mother on Friday. He was not sure whether his mother was in the cave shrine or outside during the cloudburst.
“We are confident that we will hear good news. My mother is a Lord Shiva devotee. It was her long-cherished dream to visit Amarnath and offer prayers to Lord Shiva,” he said, adding that poor mobile phone signals might be preventing her from contacting home.
Fifteen people who had gone on the yatra from Tadepalligudem contacted home, marking themselves safe. Two families from Chanamilli village in Nidamarru mandal, too, were safe.
All the 36 pilgrims, including 22 women, from Guntur were reported safe. All of them have been working in the Guntur mirchi yard. Arjuna Rao, the group coordinator, thanked officials for saving them. “Once we reached the base point, the military and local officials prevented us from proceeding further. They saved us,” he said
Authorities in Jammu provided shelter at temporary rehabilitation centers and provided food, Arjuna Rao added, saying they would return to Guntur via Chandigarh on Monday.
Soon after the Friday’s incident, the State government deputed the Additional Resident Commissioner at AP Bhavan in New Delhi to Jammu to coordinate with the authorities there, and facilitate the return of the pilgrims. Initial reports on the calamity said that at least 16 people were killed and 40 others went missing following the flash flood close to the 3,880-metre-high cave shrine.