The bodies of 17 out of 20 IAF,ITBP and NDRF personnel who were killed in Tuesdays helicopter crash are badly mutilated and burnt,and they are still lying at the accident site near Kedarnath,officials said on Wednesday. They said the bodies were beyond recognition and they were in a fix on how to hand them over to the families for cremation as they do not have any previously preserved DNA samples to match with.
Rescue teams are waiting for the weather to improve on Wednesday,when they will fly the bodies to Guptakashi one by one on a smaller helicopter. Three bodies are yet to be retrieved. Related: After rescuing survivors,team begins search for the dead
Within 15-20 minutes they would have reached the base at Gauchar. After spending almost a week at Kedarnath under extreme conditions they were finally returning when the helicopter crashed. I did not speak to them but they must have been really happy and excited to return, said Ajay Chaddha,DG ITBP.
Of the 20 men who were killed six belonged to ITBP. The other nine NDRF men who died were also from ITBP and were on deputation.
The next challenge for the officials was to identify the dead. All of them were in uniform and their bodies are badly burnt. We will preserve the DNA samples but the real challenge would be to hand over the body to the concerned family. As we do not have previous DNA samples stored with us we can match it only with that of the family members,which is a time consuming process, said a senior official. We will look for some other identification like a ring,chain or any other thing. At least 11 of those killed were aged between 22 and 32.
As of now,26 ITBP and 60 NDRF personnel were still posted in the Kedarnath,Gaurikund areas. Chaddha said they would be asked to return only after the weather improves.
MHA asks state govt to carry out mass cremations
The Ministry of Home Affairs has shot off a letter to the Uttarakhand government,asking it to take the responsibility of mass cremation of those killed in the flash floods.
The official death toll is now 822. According to a top NDMA official,344 people are still missing. He said that several bodies were believed to be trapped under the debris,which were at least eight feet high. The state administration had asked the help of the ITBP and NDRF to cremate the dead. The ITBP had refused to do the job. This prompted the the MHA to write a letter to states Chief Secretary,asking the state to perform the last rites on their own.