In a story published by AFIPN earlier this month, Indian authorities were scrambling to find answers as to why 108 pilgrims who embarked on the Char Dham Yatra pilgrimage had already died in just the first twenty-seven days.
The death toll, which is in stark contrast to that of previous years, is continuing to climb, according to Indian news publications.
Since the start of the Yatra at the beginning of May, there have now been a total of 150 pilgrim fatalities due to cardiac arrest, and other ailments, which is a further increase of 42 since our last report.
One hundred and fifty pilgrims have passed away in the first 35 days of the pilgrimage.
As a result of the sharp increase in mortality, the Indian government and health officials had been desperately working to find the cause of the spike and imposed mandatory medical pre-screening checks for participants prior to them embarking on the journey in an attempt to reduce the death toll.
Following pilgrim deaths in the first 27 days, the government stationed ambulance and medical specialists across the pilgrimage route, and an emergency helicopter was on ‘stand-by.’
In May, Chief Medical Officer BK Shukla told the Hindustan Times health authorities acknowledged it was an “alarming situation.”
“Most of the pilgrims died due to heart attacks,” he told the publication.
Now with a total of 150 pilgrim deaths, and more than 6,570 pilgrims having been given medical treatment during the Yatra, the Uttarakhand government has announced an ‘augmentation’ to its health response.
A committee headed by Health Secretary Radhika Jha, has been set up to ensure ‘better heath facilities’ along the Yatra route.
Head of the expert committee Saroj Naithani said,
“The committee will inspect the health screening camps, and health units set up on the yatra route and will submit its recommendations to the state government about further improvement in health facilities in view of emergency health services and accidental and heath related deaths.”
It is reported that 259,710 pilgrims have undergone mandatory medical screening. Of those, 95 have been refused passage to continue the journey.
104 helplines have also been set up to track pilgrims in case of emergency, or who are in need of rescue.
Indian health authorities are continuing to investigate the increased spike in pilgrimage deaths.