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Search stepped up, mass cremations on

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Soldiers assist stranded persons to safety alongside a raging river near the Pindari Glacier in northern Uttarakhand.Photo: AFP/MOD
Soldiers assist stranded persons to safety alongside a raging river near the Pindari Glacier in northern Uttarakhand.Photo: AFP/MOD

Rescue workers stepped up the search for bodies on Thursday in the flood ravaged north and mass cremations took place as fears grew over outbreaks of disease, officials and reports said.

More than 100,000 mainly pilgrims and tourists have been evacuated from the disaster zone and some 4,000 remain in relief camps after the flash floods and landslides that hit the state of Uttarakhand on June 15.

Raging rivers caused by monsoon rains swept away houses, buildings and entire villages in the Himalayan state, which was packed with tourists and pilgrims travelling to Hindu shrines.

Around 1,000 people have died, the state government has told AFP, although officials have warned the death toll could rise as more victims are found. Persistent bad weather is hampering evacuations from the relief camps, officials said, and focus is increasingly on recovering bodies to prevent the spread of disease.

"The remaining people will be evacuated as and when the weather clears," a senior officer overseeing rescue operations said.

"The bigger worry is finding the scores of dead bodies that may be still buried under debris," said the officer, who did not want to be named as he is not authorised to speak to the media.

Health officials have warned locals against drinking river water on concerns of contamination from rotting bodies.


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