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Over 5 lakh pilgrims visit Amarnath cave

July 16, 2012 23:48 IST

Over 500,000 pilgrims have so far visited the holy Amarnath cave shrine in the Himalayas, although only 3.50 lakh had registered themselves from different parts of the country for this year's yatra.

Meanwhile, a record number of 86 pilgrims have died during the ongoing yatra and the number doesn't include the 15 pilgrims who died in a road accident while returning home after performing darshan at the cave shrine late Saturday night.

The pilgrims died after the state road transport corporation bus plunged into a deep gorge at Digdole near Ramban on the Srinagar-Jammu national highway.

State governor, N N Vohra, who is also chairman of the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board, Monday ordered bodies of the seven pilgrims who lost their lives in the bus accident be flown to Darbhanga, Bihar.

Official sources said that until Monday evening, more than 500,000 pilgrims had darshan at the cave shrine. The pilgrims have been using the north Kashmir Baltel and south Kashmir Pahalgam routes to reach the cave shrine.

Vohra on Monday took a meeting of top officers and discussed with them the urgent need for identifying the short and long-term measures for protection of environment and ecology of the yatra area. He observed that, inter alia, the environment and ecology would be protected by ensuring the regular collection and treatment of all wastes.

He said that after the culmination of this year's yatra, a sanitation drive would be launched, as in the past to clean up all the camp sites and the tracks of all sorts of garbage.

Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar