Yatra toll 71, J&K advises health checks

Concerned over the rising number of deaths of Amarnath pilgrims, Jammu and Kashmir government on Friday appealed to the pilgrims to undergo health check-ups in Baltal and Pahalgam base camps before embarking on arduous journey to the 3,888-meter high shrine.

The toll, primarily due to cardiac arrest, on Friday touched 72. State health minister Sham Lal Sharma said pilgrims should follow travel advisory of Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) and get a medical check-up done before leaving.

“I request all the pilgrims to access our health facilities, including those at the base camps in Baltal and Pahalgam, before starting the trek to holy cave shrine,” Sharma said.

Around 105 people died during the 45-day yatra last year. The high number of deaths in the first two weeks of the pilgrimage this year has drawn criticism and protests from various organisation.

The BJP and Puri Shankaracharya have flayed the SASB and state government for the deaths. Cardiac arrest caused by rarefied oxygen at high altitudes has been one of the most common causes of death.

The minister said, “The facilities available at these medical camps include oxygen cylinders, all necessary medications, diagnostics techniques trained para-medics.”

The yatra commenced on June 25 from the twin tracks of Baltal and Pahalgam.

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