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Uttarakhand: Death toll may go past 10,000,says assembly speaker

Efforts are also being made on war-footing to ensure supply of essential relief material to over 600 villages.

Written by Express News Service | Almora/dehradun | Published: June 29, 2013 1:17:27 pm

Two weeks after flashfloods and landslides ravaged Uttarakhand,there were conflicting figures of death toll with state Assembly Speaker Govind Singh Kunjwal claiming today that it may cross 10,000 while the official figure is under 1,000.

Rescue work in Badrinath area resumed during the day after some delay due to bad weather and 1,313 pilgrims including some villagers were evacuated-600 by helicopters and the remaining by road,Chief Secretary Subhash Kumar told

reporters in Dehradun. He said about 500 people still remain to be evacuated.

Efforts are also being made on a war-footing to ensure supply of essential relief material to over 600 villages in Rudraprayag,Chamoli and Uttarkashi districts,which are cut off after the floods.

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2,379 metric tonnes of wheat and 2,875 metric tonnes of rice has so far been dispatched to these villages. The frequently changing weather is hampering work as the relief material can be supplied only by air,the officials said.

In Almora,Kunjwal claimed that the death toll can cross 10,000. The official figure is 822.

“Earlier when I returned from a tour of Garhwal region I believed the casualty figure could be 4000 to 5000. But now as per my information and bodies being seen by the people,I can say the figure can cross the 10,000 mark,” Kunjwal told reporters.

But the Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna rejected that claim,telling a news channel that “details on casualties will be declared truthfully”.

Though refusing to quantify casualties even 14 days after the tragedy,Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna has been saying it is feared over 1,000 people may have perished in the calamity.

According to him,the exact number of people killed will be known only after the removal of debris left behind by the gushing waters and landslides.

The Chief Secretary said a clearer picture will emerge in a couple of days as the figure of missing persons,said to be around 3,000,is being ascertained with several cases of duplication.

Road network in Uttarakhand has been badly damaged in the floods,with 259 roads damaged in Tehri,139 in Dehradun,132 in Uttarkashi,110 in Chamoli and 71 in Rudraparayag district.

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Over 200 families living along the banks of Bhagirathi river have been asked to move to safer places following a rise in water level.

The MeT department,howeve,has sought to allay apprehensions,the water level rise is mainly due to melting of glaciers with the sun showing up,and that there is no

flood threat.

Uttarakhand MeT department Director Anand Sharma said the snow in upper reaches was melting with the sun coming out,and this was increasing water level in rivers. “There is nothing to worry about as it will not create any flood situation,” he said.

Inclement weather hampered rescue operations and work to clear debris in worst-hit Kedarnath area.

Mass cremation of bodies continued for another day to minimise chances of an epidemic outbreak. The last rites of 34 bodies have been performed and the cremation of 12 more bodies pulled out from the debris is likely to be conducted soon after identification and other formalities have been completed,officials said.

With the threat of an epidemic outbreak looming large due to decaying bodies lying under debris,and some also flowing down the Ganga,teams of doctors have been sent to affected districts to initiate remedial action,the officials said.

A team of experts from Archaeological Survey of India will visit the Kedarnath temple in Uttarakhand to assess the quantum of damage caused by the flood fury as also the restoration work required for the shrine.

The team of five experts from Dehradun and Delhi will discuss all aspects of the restoration work of the revered temple which bore the brunt of floods and landslides triggered by the deluge in the hill state on June 16.

with PTI Inputs

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