Truck plunge kills 16 pilgrims in Kashmir

Sixteen Hindus returning from the site of an annual pilgrimage in Kashmir died when their truck plunged into a deep gorge, police said Friday.

The truck, carrying more than 30 pilgrims, skidded off the road and into the gorge late Thursday evening, some 50 kilometres (30 miles) from the Kashmiri winter capital Jammu, a police spokesman said.

"The truck rolled over. Sixteen people were killed and another 16 were injured," the spokesman told AFP.

The victims had all taken part in an annual pilgrimage -- one of the oldest in the world -- to the Amarnath cave in the Kashmir Himalaya, which houses a natural stalagmite worshipped as a symbol of Shiva, the god of destruction.

Hundreds of thousands of Hindus visit the cave every summer, trekking to altitudes of 4,570 metres (15,000 feet) along narrow, winding paths that criss-cross steep valleys.

Two weeks ago 15 pilgrims died in Kashmir when their bus skidded off the road into a different gorge.
 

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