25 Jun 2013

India flood victims to be cremated

10:27 pm on 25 June 2013

Authorities in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand are preparing to hold mass cremations after more than 600 people died in devastating floods last week.

A final effort is also being made to evacuate about 6000 people still stranded in the mountains.

Firewood and other materials have been sent up to the worst of the affected areas in the mountains where authorities will begin cremating bodies of the flood victims on Tuesday.

Many of them remain unidentified, so they are being photographed and DNA samples are being preserved for the families of those still missing, the BBC reports.

At Dehradun air base, pilots are beginning their final mission to bring back people stranded. With roads still damaged, the only way in is by helicopter.

However, weather officials have warned that more heavy rain is expected, and the military is intensifying efforts to complete rescue operations before it's too late.

Early monsoon rains this year are believed to be the heaviest in 80 years. The rainy season generally lasts from June to September bringing rain which is critical to farming.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has announced an aid package worth 10 billion rupees for Uttarakhand.