India to carry out DNA tests on Uttarakhand flood skeletons

In this photograph taken on June 26, 2013, An Indian security official gestures to clear the road in front of portraits of missing pilgrims pasted on the gates of the Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun. Image copyright AFP
Image caption More than 5,000 people who went missing after the floods were presumed dead

Scientists in India will extract DNA from more than 30 skeletons of suspected victims of devastating floods in 2013 in the northern state of Uttarakhand, police say.

The skeletons were discovered by trekkers last week on a road linking two of the worst affected areas.

Authorities had confirmed that some 600 people died in the floods.

Later the government said that more than 5,700 people were missing and would be presumed dead.

However, authorities said, the exact number of deaths may never be known.

Many bodies were washed away or remain buried under debris. Some were recovered in rivers downstream from the flood zone and cremated in the places where they were found.

"We have constantly admitted that there are dead bodies buried under the huge pile of debris which came with the 2013 flood. The state government continues to launch combing operations to trace skeletons on a regular basis," Uttarakhand chief minister Harish Rawat told the BBC's Raju Gusain.

"We have found 31 skeletons in the latest operation. We have completed the last rites of 23 and will cremate the other eight in a day or two, after completing the DNA sampling process.".

The trekkers found the remains last week on a 27km (16-mile) route between a shrine in Kedarnath and the temple town of Trijuginarayan, reports said.

"It appears most of the skeletons were of local travellers who were familiar with this route. Pilgrims must have followed suit, watching the locals," Atul Jamloki, a member of the trekking group, told The Hindustan Times newspaper.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption More than 100,000 people were rescued from the Himalayan mountains after the floods

More than 100,000 people were rescued from the Himalayan mountains after the floods and landslides affected more than 4,000 villages.

The 2013 early monsoon rains in the Uttarakhand region were described as the heaviest in 80 years.

Swollen rivers swept away entire villages in the state, where there were many travellers in what was peak tourist season.

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