SRINAGAR, July 7: Five more pilgrims have died enroute to the Holy Amarnath cave shrine, 3880-metres high in Kashmir Himalayas, officials said Saturday, expressing concern over the rising number of deaths.
Devotees brave cold weather, including rains and snow, to reach the cave shrine which houses the Shivlingam or an ice stalagmite worshipped by the Hindus.
Forty-seven devotees have died since the Amarnath yatra or pilgrimage, one of the holiest for Hindus, started on June 25.
Parveen Kumar, 32, and Balbir Singh, 70, both residents of Delhi, died at Brarimarg and Baltal Saturday morning while two other pilgrims from Gujarat – Kila Bahan, 52, and Jagdesh Prushotam Dass, 77 – died at Baltal Friday night, the officials said.
Another pilgrim, Anand Botinger, 43, of Uttar Pradesh, died at Pissu top near the holy cave while returning to the base camp after offering prayers at the shrine, they said.
Most of the deaths during the pilgrimage so far have been caused by cardiac arrest
Recently, Jammu and Kashmir governor N.N. Vohra appealed to all intending pilgrims to avoid high altitude holy trek if they are having any medical problems.
After 107 pilgrims lost their lives during the pilgrimage in 2011 due to medical reasons, the shrine board has made medical certificates mandatory for the intending Yatris this year.
The annual yatra, which is set to conclude on August 2 coinciding with Hindu festival Raksha Bandhan,is going on smoothly from the twin routes of Baltal in Ganderbal district and traditional Pahalgam in Anantnag district.
More than two hundred and fifty thousand (2.5 lakhs) Hindus have paid obeisance at the cave shrine so far. This year, authorities expect more than half a million devotees to perform pilgrimage to the shrine.