File photo: An Indian man looks at a wall which is covered with special announcements and pictures of missing people near the airport gate in Jollygrant, in northern Indian state of Uttarakhand.

 

New Delhi -

A total of 5 748 people missing after last month's floods in northern India are presumed dead, authorities said on Monday.

Anyone still untraced would be declared dead to allow the government to start paying their families compensation, Uttarakhand state Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna.

“We will issue the list later today,” he said in state capital Dehradun.

The government would pay 500 000 rupees (8 325 dollars) for each victim, he said.

Heavy monsoon rains in mid-June caught thousands of pilgrims visiting Hindu shrines in the Himalayan region, tourists and locals, triggering devastating landslides and flash floods.

The earlier confirmed death toll was around 900. Piyush Rautela, director of Uttarakhand's disaster management division, said the exact number may never be known.

“Many of the bodies may have been washed away by raging rivers or buried under debris,” he said.

Nearly 109 000 people were rescued in land and air operations by the military. The early monsoon rains flooded 4 200 villages, and were estimated to be the heaviest in the region in 88 years.

Rautela said the administration was still providing relief materials including food and medicine to people in remote areas, as well as rebuilding roads and bridges destroyed by floods. - Sapa-dpa