Disposal of bodies, relief transportation pose fresh challenge

Dehradun: With the majority of pilgrims evacuated from Badrinath, disposal of bodies lying in affected areas and transportation of relief material to locals in flooded villages today posed a fresh challenge to authorities in Uttarakhand.
Uncertainty prevailed on the 15th day of the calamity over the number of people killed with conflicting casualty figures doing the rounds.
200 more pilgrims were evacuated from Badrinath to Joshimath today in five choppers amid government claims of only 500 remaining there with enough food material, medicines and doctors to take care of them.
Supplying foodgrains to affected villages is proving to be an onerous task for the administration now as trucks loaded with relief material are stuck at different places in the city in the absence of roads which suffered extensive damage in the floods, official sources said.
Disposal of bodies in worst-hit Kedarnath Valley is going on but the process is slow due to frequently changing weather, DIG Sanjay Gunjyal told PTI.
There was no clarity over the number of people killed in the disaster with Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna saying it may be beyond 1,000 and state Assembly Speaker Govind Singh Kunjwal claiming the figure may cross the 10,000 mark.
Authorities said that the casualty figure would be known after removal of tonnes of debris lying in affected areas.
TV footages showed bodies lying in the open in Rambaraarea between Gaurikund and Kedarnath shrine in Rudraprayag district which bore the brunt of the tragedy.
An official estimate said about 550 people are still stranded at different locations across the state.
Evacuation from Badrinath is expected to be over by this evening, if the weather remains favourable, an official said.