At least 16 pilgrims have died in flash floods triggered by a cloudburst in the northern Indian territory of Jammu and Kashmir, officials said on Saturday.
Officials said the cloudburst occurred late on Friday evening, leading to flash floods that swept away several makeshift tents at the base camp of a holy Hindu shrine in the central government-controlled territory.
"Sixteen people have been confirmed dead. About 40 still seem to be missing. No landslide, but rain continues, though no problem in rescue work," National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) chief Atul Karwal told the local media.
According to the top disaster management official, four NDRF teams of 100 personnel have been pressed into rescue work. "The Indian Army is also in action at the disaster site," Karwal said.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter to express his anguish over the loss of lives in the cloudburst.
"Condolences to the bereaved families.
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Rescue and relief operations are underway. All possible assistance is being provided to the affected," Modi wrote.
Every year, thousands of Hindus visit the holy shrine as part of an annual pilgrimage.
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