Mass cremation to begin in Kedarnath today



Gauchar: The IAF, Army and Uttarakhand administration on Tuesday launched a massive operation to send logistics like firewood and fuel for conducting last rites of those killed in the worst-hit Kedarnath Valley.

Multiple agencies undertaking relief and rescue operations are increasingly getting worried about the imminent spread of diseases and the rotting of the bodies in the temple town area as the tragedy is nine days old now.

But the weather, with heavy cloud cover and rains, is the biggest challenge as heavy choppers like Mi-17 are not able to enter the narrow airspace in the Kedarnath valley, just below Yamunotri.

"All efforts are directed to start the funeral in Kedarnath today. Once the helicopters enter the area we will drop the funeral items," a senior official said requesting anonymity.

"Weather check sorties are being flown," a senior IAF officer said.

The operations for Kedarnath are being controlled from the helipad here as the IAF has lined up three Mi-17s to carry wood, fuel, ghee, wooden planks, ropes and other stuff to Kedarnath.

Truckloads of wood logs have lined up on the tarmac here.

ALH Sarang helicopters are airborne to enter the Kedarnath valley.

The Army aviation on its part too has readied its 'Cheetahs' to fly a small sortie and check out the area for clearances and dropping of food items.

"The plan is to drop the logistics for funeral at Kedarnath. On ground there we have ITBP, NDRF and state authorities to initiate the task.But all will be decided by the weather and if the choppers are able to drop the logistics," another state government official said.

The Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) has also loaded food items, water and medicines in one of the Mi-17s for the agencies operating in Kedarnath and any possible stranded people.

"The Kedarnath valley is by and large free from people who were stranded. We just need to ensure the respect of the dead. Time is running out for everyone," a senior IAF officer supervising air operations, said.

PTI