The death of 67 Amarnath pilgrims, mostly due to cardiac arrest, in just 17 days of the yatra to the holy cave in south Kashmir has left the board managing the pilgrimage worried. The board has asked authorities to address all health-related issues.
Although 105 persons died during the 45-day yatra last year, the highest due to natural causes, the high number of deaths in the first two weeks of the pilgrimage this year has the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board, headed by Gov. N.N. Vohra, worried.
"As many as 67 yatris died during the ongoing pilgrimage, mostly due to cardiac arrest, during the first 17 days," an official of the shrine board said.
Cardiac arrest caused by rarefied oxygen at high altitude has been one of the most common natural causes of death among the pilgrims.
Officials of the state health department, which is running dozens of medical camps along the twin yatra routes, said in many cases the pilgrims were found to be in possession of fake fitness certificates.
The governor has already convened two emergency meetings on pilgrim deaths since the 39-day annual pilgrimage to the shrine housing the naturally formed ice Shiv Lingam commenced on June 25 from the twin tracks of Pahalgam in Anantnag district and Baltal in Ganderbal district.
The yatra ends Aug. 2, coinciding with Raksha Bandhan.