Ten days after monstrous flashfloods destroyed much of Kedarnath, Uttarkashi and Rudraprayag in Uttarakhand, State authorities fear an unstoppable epidemic in the region due to the large number of bodies exposed to the elements for days and infected water. Forensic officers have been deployed to collect DNA samples of unidentified bodies.
Nearly 830 people have already died in the State while rescuers continue their search for missing pilgrims. State officials said following complaints from several villagers and Indo-Tibetan Border Police personnel, a team of 100 workers was rushed to Kedarnath on Wednesday to start the cremation process as diseases could spread within the local population and pilgrims stranded in makeshift camps.
“We have started the cremation of bodies after completing all formalities. The process could take a few days. Two priests and a team of doctors were also despatched for proper cremation procedures. We were told that at least 10 pilgrims are also suffering from diarrhoea. We are worried about residents of 350 villages in Rudraprayag and Srinagar and ordered super chlorination of water,” officials said. DIG Sanjay Gunjal has been deputed by the State to supervise the panchnama (position) of bodies at Kedarnath. The police control room in Dehradun confirmed that cremation started in the evening but the actual number of bodies cremated on the day was not known.
Apart from 313 doctors and 4,977 paramedical personnel deployed by the State government, three Central public health teams have also been posted to Uttarakhand. The Ministry of Health said early warning signals of diarrhoea in Haridwar, Uttarkashi and Rudraprayag were picked up by the team of doctors and cases were managed at the incipient stage.