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Holy site to be sprayed to clear stench of bodies

Foul smell delaying Indian flood clean-up

Holy site to be sprayed to clear stench of bodies

The Mandakini River was one of many which overflowed and caused severe flooding in Uttarakhand state 

Ritu Sharma, New Delhi

July 5, 2013

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Authorities are planning to fumigate the pilrimage site of Kedarnath in the flood-hit foothills of the Himalayas in a bid to clear the foul smell of rotting bodies, the latest obstacle to clean-up operations.

The fumigation will be performed by helicopters, as many roads have washed away and some areas remain inaccessible.

Deputy inspector-general Sanjay Gunjal, who is in charge of mass cremations in the town, said that two NGOs had donated herbal spray for the operation “to reduce the stench spreading in the area.”

The Uttarakhand state government took the decision in a bid to make the air breathable again which would allow authorities to airdrop men to dig bodies from under debris, said Gunjal.

After preserving their DNA, remains will then be cremated.

“Some 59 bodies have been mass cremated in Kedarnath and many more are buried under the debris,” said Gunjal.

Authorities have already spread bleaching powder over the valley to help stop decaying, said State Health Minister Surinder Singh Negi who expressed fears that bodies still floating in the river could cause an epidemic.

Kedarnath was among the towns worst hit when flash floods ravaged the area, killing an estimated 10,000 people on June 16. Thousands are still missing.

State Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna said the exact toll will never be known as many bodies are buried and could not be found, while others were washed away.

Some 105,000 stranded pilgrims were rescued visiting Kedarnath and three other Hindu holy sites in the area in what was the Indian Army’s largest ever rescue operation. 

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