A pilgrim named Gopalji Gupta said that massive boulders came down from the sides of the Amarnath cave. "Those who came in its path sustained injuries and some even died," he said.
On Saturday, the Indian Army, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), and the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) conducted rescue operations to search for survivors. Currently, there are at least 40 people missing.
"A stampede-like situation happened there, but the Army supported us a lot. Many pandals were washed away due to the water," said Deepak Chouhan, a pilgrim from Uttar Pradesh’s Hardoi, as per news agency ANI.
'28 Members Of Our Group Missing': Survivor
Another survivor, meanwhile, said that several members of his group were missing. "We had a group of 73 people. Out of those, 45 people are safe. We are unable to contact the remaining persons," he said.
A pilgrim named Chetan Lakhwani said that he was saved from the cloudburst because he was two kilometres away from the site.
"The CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) took a very good decision to stop everyone from going forward, and asking them to turn back. There was a lot of chaos at the site. Several pilgrims also came forward to help others. The CRPF and the police also helped a lot," he said.
"When the cloudburst took place, we could not believe it. After a while, we only saw water and water. We were a group of seven to eight people," another pilgrim said, adding, "By Bholenath’s grace, we all got saved. However, we all had a harrowing experience as we witnessed people and bags being swept away in the water."
Telangana BJP MLA Among Survivors
A Telangana Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA and his family were also among the pilgrims who witnessed the cloudburst, and were fortunately saved from the flash flood it triggered.
The MLA, Raja Singh, and his family had reached Amarnath via a helicopter and chose to use ponies to descend from the mountain before the weather began deteriorating on Friday.
"We sensed that the weather suddenly changed and getting deteriorated. In those circumstances the chopper service would also be canceled. So we decided to descend the hills using ponies. I could see the cloudburst about one kilometre down the hills. Several tents swept away in the floods," Singh said while speaking to the press.
Since the MLA is under special security protection, the Indian Army helped him and his family reach Srinagar, news agency PTI reported.
Singh added that he estimates that at least 50 people were washed away in the floods.
"Water was gushing through the hills and swept way some tents. My estimation is that at least 50 people were swept away in the flash flood. Army was doing a great job at the Amarnath cave. But, they were helpless in these kinds of circumstances and also it was dark."
Meanwhile, at least 15,000 pilgrims who were stranded near the cave have been shifted to the lower base camp of Panjtarni a spokesperson of the ITBP said.
All the injured persons are undergoing treatment at hospitals such as Upper Holy Cave, Lower Holy Cave, and Panjtarni where healthcare workers have been assigned.
(With inputs from PTI and ANI.)