Weather clears, police rush to cremate 23 more bodies

Uttarakhand police resumed cremation of people who perished in the floods after the weather cleared Wednesday. At least 18 bodies were cremated in Jungle Chatti and five on the way there from Gaurikund.

The police fear thousands of bodies are lying in the rubble in Rambada, a destroyed town on the trek to Kedarnath which remains inaccessible by road or air. Indeed, scavengers have been sighted flying low. "The Himalayan Griffin or the white vulture is not normally seen below 12,000 feet. Now it is being seen at lower altitudes. The raven has also been sighted," principal chief conservator of forests R B Rawat said.

"We set up camps at Gaurikund and Kedarnath Wednesday. The personnel have the resources to stay there for at least 10 to 12 days in case the weather does not allow us to fly more sorties. A team from Gaurikund camp was flown to Jungle Chatti, where they dug out 18 bodies and cremated them," IG R S Meena told The Indian Express.

The NDRF, veterinarians, labourers and forensic experts from Hyderabad are helping the police with cremations. "At least 3,000 missing person reports have been registered. We are preserving samples of all bodies we retrieve in case there are requests in future from people who want to confirm death of their loved ones through DNA matching," Meena said.

The police, meanwhile, have sent teams to find alternative routes to Kedarnath. "The route from Gaurikund to Kedarnath does not exist anymore, so we are dependent on helicopters to ferry us there," DIG Amit Sinha said.

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