Himalayan Flood Victims Cremated Amid Epidemic Fears
Fearing the possible outbreak of an epidemic, the Indian authorities today started preparing for the on-site cremation of the Himalayan flood victims.
At Kedarnath, one of the worst hit sites, the Indian air force helicopters took on the grim task of dropping tons of firewood, ghee (clarified Butter), and other materials—the first supplies needed for the planned mass cremation. The cremations would begin when the weather clears and rain stops, while the Kedarnath Temple priests will supervise all the rituals.
K. N. Pandey, a senior disaster management official, told AFP that the bodies are decomposing. “Under no circumstances can we allow an outbreak of an epidemic,” he said.
At the same time, authorities organizing the cremation said that the belongings and documents recovered from the dead bodies are being cataloged to help with identification. DNA samples are also being collected.
An Indian air force helicopter returning from a rescue mission in Kedarnath, hit the side of a mountain and fell into a river Tuesday, killing eight people. The air force said in a statement that it has ordered an inquiry into the crash.
Authorities fear more than 5,000 people are dead, while thousands are still stranded in the flood-devastated Himalayan region of Uttarakahnd.
Associated Press has contributed to this report.