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5,000 missing in Kedarnath, presumed dead: ActionAid
Friday June 21, 2013 9:42 PM, IANS

Nearly 5,000 people are still missing in Kedenarth in Uttarakhand following the devastating floods and are presumed dead, ActionAid said Friday.

Debabrat Patra, ActionAid India's regional manager for Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, said the situation in the hill state was "catastrophic".

"People's houses and animals have been washed away and many roads have simply disappeared," he said.

According to him, nearly 75,000 pilgrims were stranded.

"Our partners in the region have reported that nearly 5,000 people are still missing in Kedarnath, presumed dead.

"People are at a loss as to where to start search and rescue. We expect more rains in the coming days and weeks, and the situation may get worse and hinder the search and rescue work underway now," he added.

Uttarakhand saw over 60 hours of continuous and heavy rains coupled with few incidents of cloudbursts at various locations since June 14 to 17 that led to floods in the two main rivers: Alaknanda and Bhagirathi.

"This is what initially triggered the massive devastation of infrastructure and loss of lives," an ActionAid statement said.

"However, the large scale deforestation and massive construction projects, especially large dams and hydro-power projects, have weakened the ecosystem of the region and the accompanying effects of climate change is further galvanizing the destruction.

"ActionAid is particularly worried about the rampant dam construction all over the state which affects hundreds of villages along the banks of the Alaknanda, Bhagirathi and Mandakini," added Sehjo Singh, a director in ActionAid India.

"With no forest left to hold the earth, the threat of major landslides looms large," she said.

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