More bodies recovered a year after Kedarnath tragedy

Over 3,500 people had gone missing after cloudburst triggered flash floods

More bodies recovered a year after Kedarnath tragedy

In a grisly reminder of the tragedy that struck the holy shrine of Kedarnath almost a year ago, killing thousands, more bodies have been recovered from the area.  

Skeletal remains of 21 bodies have been recovered from densely forested areas near Jungle Chatti, around 14 km before Kedarnath, over the past three days, district magistrate of Rudraprayag Dr Raghav Langar said here on Saturday. 

“So far this season, we have recovered 21 bodies...the area is being thoroughly combed,” Langar told Deccan Herald.

Six bodies were found on Saturday, five on Thursday, and nine prior to that. 

Officials have collected DNA samples of the bodies for possible identification before cremation. “We found utensils, clothes and footwear around the bodies,” said an official.

 They said these people could be pilgrims who ran towards the dense forest to escape the fury of the floodwaters of the Alaknanda river, and may have lost their way.

Langar said that the possibility of recovering more bodies cannot be ruled out. “There may be more bodies beneath millions of tonnes of boulders and muck,” he remarked.

The district magistrate also said that the government never claimed it had disposed of all bodies, which Chief Minister Harish Rawat also maintains. “Last year, we had disposed 544 bodies. Over 3,500 people had gone missing,” Langar said.

“Some might have been swept away by strong currents, while a few may also have been eaten by wild animals...some might be found beneath boulders,” he pointed out.

The government of Uttarakhand has formed a special task force (STF) headed by a DIG rank officer to undertake combing operations in the Kedarnath area. The STF will also include Indo-Tibetan Border Police personnel, officials here said. 

Local villagers have been alerted and asked to assist the administration in tracing the bodies. Incidentally, the first five bodies were recovered only after locals spotted them. 

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