Uttarakhand state assembly speaker Govind Singh Kunjwal made a shocking claim on Saturday that more than 10,000 people could have been killed in the flash floods.
The state of Uttarkhand is the worst hit among several other north Indian states that faced a trail of destruction due to cloudburst, flash floods and landslides. It has been two weeks since the devastation occurred, but still there is no clarity on the death toll.
Kunjwal claimed in Almora that the number of people killed in the floods could be more than 10,000. "Earlier when I returned from a tour of Garhwal region I believed the casualty figure could be 4,000 to 5,000. But now as per my information and bodies being seen by the people, I can say the figure can cross the 10,000 mark," Kunjwal told Press Trust of India.
Uttarkhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna had earlier stated that the death toll might reach 1,000. However, he trashed the claim made by Kunjwal and said his numbers are incorrect. Bahuguna acknowledged that the death toll could rise, but maintained that the true figures would be revealed once the debris is removed.
The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), which is involved in the rescue and relief operations at Uttarkhand, has estimated the death toll at 580 till last evening. Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde on Saturday clarified that the toll was at 900 based on the information he received.
Shinde also stated that more than 100,000 people have been evacuated from flood-hit areas. Rescue operations are in its last leg and the workers are now focusing on Badrinath, where more than 1,000 people are still stuck. Nearly 200 pilgrims were evacuated from the region and the rest are expected to be evacuated on Sunday, once the weather improves.