India floods: 'Thousands still missing' in Uttarakhand

Stranded Indian pilgrims wait in line for their turn to be evacuated in an Indian Air Force helicopter at Badrinath on June 29, 2013 Nearly 100,000 pilgrims and tourists have been rescued so far

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Nearly 3,000 people are still missing following floods and landslides which hit India's Uttarakhand state a fortnight ago, the chief minister of the state has said.

More than 800 people are reported to have been killed so far but Vijay Bahuguna said the exact number of deaths may never be known.

Hundreds of people are still trapped in the Badrinath area, reports say.

Some 100,000 people have already been evacuated from the flood-hit region.

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.


"We will never know the exact number of the dead and the number of people buried or washed away," Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna told the Press Trust of India news agency.

"According to my information about 3,000 people are still missing. We will compensate their families. They have to give an affidavit saying that their relatives have not returned home for more than 30 days."

Officials say many bodies may have been washed away or remain buried under debris. Some of the bodies were recovered in rivers downstream from the flood zone.

Distraught relatives clutching photographs of missing family members have been waiting for days in the state capital, Dehradun, hoping for news.

The Indian military has been flying helicopters into the mountains to evacuate tens of thousands of people trapped by damaged roads and landslides.

Reports say some 900 Hindu pilgrims and tourists are still stranded in the Badrinath, one of the worst-affected areas. They are expected to be evacuated on Monday.

While most of the stranded people have been rescued, the extent of the damage to the local communities is still unclear.

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