21 more corpses found

Year after tragedy, skeletons recovered from U'khand

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

Twenty-one bodies, all skeletons, have been recovered from the densely forested areas near Jungle Chatti, some 14 kilometers from Kedarnath, in the past three days, district magistrate of Rudraprayag 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.

Five bodies were found in the area on Thursday, while six skeletons were recovered on Saturday.

Before that nine bodies were also found from the area. The bodies were dismembered and unrecognisable.

Officials have collected DNA samples of the bodies for possible identification before cremating them. 

“We found utensils, clothes and footwear around the bodies,” an official said.They said the bodies could be of pilgrims, who had run toward the dense forest to save themselves from the fury of the flood waters of Alaknanda river and might have strayed and lost their way.

The DM said the possibility of recovery of more bodies could not be ruled out. “There may be more bodies beneath millions of tonnes of boulders and muck,” he said.

Langar said the government had never claimed that it had disposed off all the bodies and that there were no more bodies in Kedarnath valley and adjoining areas. “Last year, we disposed 544 bodies. Over 3,500 people were missing,” he said.

“Some bodies might have been swept away by strong currents while a few might also have been eaten by wild animals. Some might also be found beneath the boulders,” he said.

The government of Uttarakhand has formed a Special Task Force headed by a DIG rank officer to undertake combing operations in Kedarnath area. The STF will have members from the ITBP too, officials here said. 

Chief Minister Harish Rawat said the government had never said that all the bodies had been disposed off. “After all it is the government team that recovered the bodies,” he added.

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

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