Almost 6,000 people missing in India floods presumed dead

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Indians wade through a flooded road after heavy rain lashed the city in Ahmadabad, India. AP PHOTO

DEHRADUN — Almost 6,000 people listed as missing after flash floods and landslides struck northern India last month are now presumed dead, officials said Monday.

Pilgrims, tourists and others were swept away when floods caused by torrential monsoon rains hit the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand in June, destroying entire villages and towns.

Some 1,000 people were confirmed dead at the time and thousands of others were listed as missing, amid a massive military rescue operation in the worst-hit areas.

Chief minister of Uttarakhand Vijay Bahuguna said those missing would now be presumed dead, and the process of compensating their families would begin.

“5,748 people are listed as missing, and the process of compensation to their families will begin tomorrow on the assumption they are dead,” Bahuguna told a press conference in the state capital.

He said his state government would compensate local residents while other governments would financially care for their residents, many of whom were pilgrims visiting remote Hindu shrines in Uttarakhand.

“A total of 924 of those listed as missing and presumed dead are from Uttarakhand and their families will receive compensation from state funds,” he said.

He said 500,000 rupees ($8,394) would be given to each family.

The Uttarakhand government will also set up a fund, with 500,000 rupees to be given to each child orphaned in the disaster, he said.

Torrential rains and landslides swept away homes, hotels and roads during a peak pilgrimage time in Uttarakhand, known as the “Land of the Gods” for its revered temples dotting the state.

The Indian military backed by a fleet of helicopters rescued more than 100,000 pilgrims and tourists from marooned villages and resort towns after the disaster.

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