Dehradun: Over 200 pilgrims and locals were Monday rescued from flood-ravaged areas of Uttarakhand where another 680 were still stranded even as Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna announced that a statutory body will be set up to oversee relief and rehabilitation work.
Amidst conflicting reports on the number of those killed in the tragedy, the Chief Minister refused to speculate on the casualty figure.
"There is no room for speculation on the casualty figure. It is a massive tragedy but as per my information, the number of visible bodies is 500 to 600.Bodies are lying under the debris and around 3000 are missing," he told reporters here.
Increasing the ambit of those who will be entitled to compensation, Bahuguna said, "Everyone who suffered losses from owners of small kiosks to hotels will be given compensation".
He said a statutory body will be set up to oversee relief and rehabilitation efforts in the worst-hit areas.
Officials in Chamoli district said 220 pilgrims in Badrinath were evacuated to safety today leaving 680 still stranded.
Despite bad weather at places including Dehradun, chopper operations began this morning in Chamoli district to evacuate about 300 pilgrims and 600 locals from Badrinath shrine to Joshimath from where they will be brought further down by road.
Approximately 3000 persons have been reported missing after the tragedy, according to officials.
The Chief Secretaries of the states concerned have been asked to verify the list and if the lost people are not traced in a month they will be declared dead.
On the 16th day of the calamity today, only 36 bodies have been disposed of amid necessary rituals so far in the worst-hit Kedarnath shrine area with no cremation having taken place there over the past two days, officials said.
The state government has sent a 200-member team of medical experts, trained police personnel and support staff from the municipal corporation to the Valley to perform the onerous task of extricating the bodies and their ritual cremation.
Some of the medical experts, who had been sent to Kedarnath to take the DNA samples of the bodies there, have returned after falling sick.