Helicopter service to Amarnath suspended due to bad weather

July 20th, 2008 - 2:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Srinagar, July 20 (IANS) Inclement weather Sunday forced suspension of helicopter services to the Amarnath Cave shrine from the north Kashmir Baltal base even as pilgrims continued their trek to the 3,888-metre-high cave amid intermittent rains. Heavy cloud cover and rains in the area are the reasons for suspending the helicopter services, officials here said.

“The monsoon effect, combined with a mild western disturbance, is likely to cause moderate to heavy rain along the twin routes to the Amarnath Cave shrine during the next 24 hours,” T.K. Jotshi, assistant director of the weather office, told IANS.

“Nearly 1,000 pilgrims left for the cave shrine early this morning from Baltal as the track was dry and safe,” a senior police officer told IANS.

Reports from the south Kashmir Nunwan (Pahalgam) base camp also said around 800 pilgrims had left for the holy cave early Sunday morning.

The weather office has predicted moderate to heavy rains at some places along the north and south Kashmir mountain tracks to the shrine Sunday.

“The weather would show signs of improvement after the next 24 hours,” Jotshi said.

The mountain tracks to the holy cave become extremely slippery and dangerous during the rains and only the sure-footed local guides and porters could guide pilgrims safely under such conditions.

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