JAMMU: Around 25,000 pilgrims are stranded at the Katra base camp in Jammu after a huge forest fire broke out in the jungles there. The yatra to the Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine remained suspended for a second consecutive day on Thursday following the forest fire.
While the trek has been halted until the fire is doused, helicopter services have resumed in the area. "A huge forest fire broke out on Wednesday in the Trikuta Hills," a police official confirmed.
The fire department has deployed helicopters to douse the flames. Trenches were also dug to prevent the fire from spreading out.
"The blaze has been contained to a large extent. For the safety of the pilgrims, the passage to the shrine will only be permitted after the blaze is completely put out," the official added.
Indian Air Force helicopters were used on Wednesday to douse the fire using under-slung bambi buckets. A light utility IAF helicopter was also sent for recce to the Trikuta Hills.
Over two crore pilgrims visit the shrine every year.