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Rains prevent rescuers from extricating bodies from rubble

New Delhi, June 30, 2013 (PTI): 22:08 IST
Uttarakhand police and NDRF personnel perform mass cremation of the pilgrims bodies in Kedarnath on Sunday. PTI Photo
Rains today prevented rescuers from reaching Kedarnath town to extricate bodies buried in the rubble even as the National Disaster Management said the death toll could be "huge" as they gain access to areas ravaged by the flash flood a fortnight ago.

"National Disaster Relief Force team had planned to go to Kedarnath town with heavy equipment to extricate the bodies, but the heavy lift helicopters could not take off with the equipment due to bad weather," M Sashidhar Reddy, Vice Chairman of National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), told reporters.

When asked about the death toll, Reddy said Uttarakhand Speaker had put the figure around 10,000, but right now it's not possible to give the exact numbers.

"I can only say that the manner in which the disaster occurred, it indicates huge number of deaths," he said.

While Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna has stated the death toll may cross the 1,000 mark, the state Assembly Speaker Govind Singh Kunjwal had said yesterday that the figure may be more than 10,000. Union Home Hinister Sushilkumar Shinde had said the toll was 900 till Friday night.

Around 1,500 people, including locals, were still stranded at Badrinath and Harsil while around 1,800 are missing, he said, adding Chief Secretaries of the states have been asked to verify the names of missing persons of their state.

Reddy said 739 villages of the state were badly affected but 80 per cent of telecommunication services have been restored. Apart from 105 satellite phones were also being used for communication.

He said the three medical team from Centre had reached Kedarnath and was busy collecting DNA samples of the dead. Also three truck loads of medicines reached there and 10 lakh chlorine tablet has been given to state government.

Teams from NIMHANS, Bangalore have reached to provide psycho-social support to the people and also from National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme to contain spread of vetcor borne diseases.

Reddy said 12 NDRF teams have been deployed, of these one is in Badrinath, two are in Laskar in Haridwar, six at Jolly Grant in Dehradun and three are in transit.

Quoting a state government report received last evening, he said a total of 1,07,670 people have been rescued till date and 1,514 people were evacuated from Harsil and Badrinath by helicopters and by roads.

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