Mass cremations planned after India floods

2013-06-25 15:01
A three-storey building is destroyed by floodwaters, in Uttarkash, in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhund. (File, AP)

A three-storey building is destroyed by floodwaters, in Uttarkash, in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhund. (File, AP)

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New Delhi - Military helicopters and troops were making efforts to rescue thousands stranded in India's flood-ravaged state of Uttarakhand on Tuesday as authorities planned mass cremations for victims.

Flash floods and landslides brought on by heavy monsoon rains on 15 and 16 June led to large-scale devastation, with houses, roads and bridges destroyed by mud and debris.

Besides local people, those affected included pilgrims and tourists who flock to visit the area's famous Hindu shrines or enjoy the Himalayan landscape.

Aerial evacuations resumed after heavy rains overnight to reach more than 6 000 people stuck near the pilgrimage site of Badrinath, army spokesperson Brigadier Uma Maheshwar said.

An official at the state disaster management unit said Badrinath was among the last areas where people were still stranded. They were in no immediate danger as they were in relief camps with access to food and water, he said.

Mass cremations for those who perished in the worst-hit areas around the temple town of Kedarnath were due to begin on Wednesday, broadcaster NDTV reported.

Lots of bodies were piled up near the Kedarnath shrine and were decomposing, raising fears of outbreaks of diseases. The victims were being photographed and DNA samples were being taken, for identification by families later.

Early monsoon rains, believed to be the heaviest in the region in over 80 years, have killed 680 people.

Federal Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said the death toll was likely to cross 1 000 after the debris is cleared. A total of 97 000 people have been rescued so far, officials said.

- SAPA
Read more on:    india  |  floods
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