The death toll in the flash floods that occurred on June 16 this year in Uttarakhand climbed up to over 1,000 as 71 dead bodies were recovered yesterday en route to the devastated stretch to the Kedarnath temple. This comes after 68 bodies were recovered from the same trek route — between Ram Bada and the temple -- and adjacent jungles on Friday.
Officials said most deaths appeared to be due to starvation and weather as the pilgrims caught in the flash floods may have tried to take refuge in the jungles as rivers surged menacingly on the ground below. Bodies were found in the ridges between Gaurikund and Garudchatti on Friday and were cremated the same day after completion of legal formalities, said Inspector General of Police RS Meena. An official said, “Care is being taken to preserve the belongings of the dead as well as DNA sampling is being undertaken .” After the skies cleared earlier this week following a long spell of rains, police and other rescue teams had undertaken a special ‘spotting mission’ in the Kedar valley, ravaged by the ‘Himayalan Tsunami’ in June.
The process to locate more dead in the neighbouring areas of Rambada, Gaurigaon, Junglechatti and Bheembali areas of the Kedar valley are likely to continue for the next one day. Officials however admitted that dead bodies buried under the rubble of mud and boulders brought in by rivers are yet to be located. The process is likely to be completed by tomorrow, an official informed while pointing out that proper puja would be commissioned at the Kedarnath shrine on September 11 as announced by the Uttarakhand government in consultation with seers and the shrine’s management body.