A team of forensic officers was deployed by the Uttarakhand Government on Wednesday to collect DNA samples of unidentified bodies, after flash floods and landslides ravaged the hill State earlier this month. A senior state official said they are preparing a database of all bodies and it will be posted on the government website.
“Majority of bodies are disfigured. We will soon post the entire list with photographs. We are also taking the help of the district police as far as missing persons are concerned and a request was also sent to the National Crime Records Bureau to publish it on the website,” an official said.
National Disaster Management Authority vice-chairman M Shashidhar Reddy said about 340 pilgrims were missing. “There is 10-foot high debris in Kedarnath and we fear that several bodies are trapped,” Reddy said.
About 99,000 stranded pilgrims were rescued by Wednesday evening. The Army on Wednesday evacuated 2,000 pilgrims from Badrinath through the bridge at Pandukeshwar, while 444 were airlifted. However, the bridge at Son Prayag could not be operationalised as rainfall resulted in a sharp increase in the water flow of the river. The National Crisis Management Committee chaired by the Cabinet Secretary reviewed the rescue operation.
Officials said approximately 2,750 pilgrims are still stranded in Badrinath and hopefully they will be evacuated by Thursday evening. In Harsil axis, only 600 pilgrims could be evacuated due to bad weather.
Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, who had earlier objected to VIPs’ disaster tourism in Uttarkhand, did a U-turn on Wednesday saying anyone including Narendra Modi can go to the state as situation has improved now. “I had asked VIPs not to travel to Uttarakhand as the situation was different. Then rescue and relief operations were going on in full swing. The advice was for only three-four days. But now situation has changed. Anyone can go there. Even Modi can go,” he said.