India floods: Mass cremations begin in Uttarakhand

UTTARAKHAND: Mass cremations are taking place in the Indian state of Uttarakhand where more than 800 people have died in floods and landslides.

At least 200 bodies have been cremated in the temple town of Kedarnath after several delays due to bad weather.

Aid agencies are warning of a possible threat of disease in relief camps where thousands are staying.

Rescue teams are still battling to reach thousands stranded in the Himalayas 11 days after flooding began.

Nearly 100,000 people have been evacuated so far, with the military continuing helicopter flights into the mountains to reach several thousand Hindu pilgrims and tourists who remain there.
Twenty people are now confirmed dead in Tuesday’s rescue helicopter crash near a pilgrimage site, the military says.

Soldiers using ropes reached the crash site on Wednesday and found the bodies of 20 people, five of them air force crew members, Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne told reporters.

This year’s early monsoon rains in the Uttarakhand region are believed to be the heaviest in 80 years. Swollen rivers have swept away entire villages in the state, where there were many travellers in what is peak tourist season.

Officials say the toll could rise as more bodies are found in remote areas.