Uttarakhand death toll might reach 1,000: NDMA

New Delhi, June 26 (IANS) The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Wednesday said the death toll in the Uttarakhand floods and landslides might touch 1,000 as more bodies are expected to be recovered from under the debris.

“There is eight to 10 feet of debris around Kedarnath temple. Once it is cleared, the death toll is expected to rise and it might reach a thousand,” said NDMA vice chairman M. Shashidhar Reddy.

“Till last (Tuesday) evening, 560 people were dead, 344 were missing and 436 were injured,” he added.

The state government, however, has put the death toll at 845.

He also added that the funeral of hundreds of flash flood victims in Kedarnath is likely to end by Friday.

“The last rites of the flood victims in Kedarnath will end by June 28 (Friday). Even today (Wednesday) they were trying to cremate hundreds of bodies but the weather condition, availability of wood and other factors is a hindrance,” he said.

“A yagna is also been conducted in Haridwar for the departed souls. NDMA is coordinating and Uttarakhand government is taking care of the cremation,” Reddy said.

The NDMA has also sent a psychoanalyst to Uttarakhand to counsel the traumatised survivors, an official said.

“We have sent a psychoanalyst to Badrinath to counsel people who were stranded and have faced the disaster,” said Reddy, adding that even the locals would be counselled as many of them had lost their livelihood.

Meanwhile, 17 bodies of military personnel killed in an air force helicopter crash in Uttarakhand have been found, the NDRF said.

“Of the 20 who died Tuesday, the bodies of 17 have been recovered,” said NDRF Inspector General Sandeep Rathore.

The bodies would be brought to Dehradun Thursday and then sent to the respective home states.

Among the nine NDRF personnel who died in the crash was N.N. Gupta, who streamlined the operation to rescue those stranded in disaster-hit Uttarakhand.

Hundreds of people have been killed in the heavy rains and floods that hit Uttarakhand, especially the temple town of Kedarnath, over 10 days ago. Thousands of stranded people, including pilgrims, have been rescued from the area.

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