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A month after U'khand disaster, 5,748 still missing

Dehradun, July 15, 2013 (PTI): 18:09 IST
Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna addressing the media in Dehradun. PTI Photo
The deadline for locating 5,748 people still missing in the Uttarakhand disaster ended today, exactly a month after the catastrophe, but Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna said they will not be declared dead yet.

Bahuguna, however, said the process of paying monetary relief of Rs 5 lakh each to the kin of those dead and missing in the flash floods and landslides triggered by heavy rains that struck the hill state on June 15 will commence from tomorrow. He also said the mission to trace the missing will continue.

But if the missing persons are found, the family will have to return the relief money, he said at a joint news conference with Union Minister of State for Planning and Parliamentary Affairs Rajiv Shukla.

When asked whether the missing are being presumed dead, Bahuguna said, "This is hoping against hope but we can't declare them dead."

Setting a deadline, the Chief Minister had said last week that those who are still missing will be presumed dead if they remain untraced till July 15.

Out of Rs five lakh to be given to the next of kin of the missing, Rs 3.5 lakh will be paid by the Centre and the rest by the respective state governments.

"After tabulation of lists of missing persons received from other states and the ones available with us a total of 5,748 persons are missing till date out of which 934 are from Uttarakhand," he said.

"The mission to find them out will go on as we still hope that the missing surface and return to their homes."

A fortnight back, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said the death toll could be around 900.

Admitting that debris removal at Kedarnath shrine was being badly affected by inclement weather, the chief minister said the NDRF has not been able to drop equipment needed to clear nearly five feet of debris lying in the shrine premises due to incessant rains.

Bodies have also been sighted in Rambada area a few kilometres from the shrine but the team engaged in the exercise has not been able to reach them.

Relief material is being transported by mules and choppers to affected areas whenever the weather permits.

Bahuguna also said BSNL lines have been restored in all affected villages.

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