50,000 still stranded in Uttarakhand

New Delhi, June 21 (IANS) More than 34,000 people have been evacuated from the flood-hit areas of Uttarakhand so far, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said Friday, adding that about 50,000 still remain stranded.

The home minister, speaking to reporters after a meeting with members of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), said: "We have evacuated more than 34,000 people. Some 49,000-50,000 people are still stranded."

"The figure of the death toll so far is 207, but more people could be buried in the debris," Shinde said.

The minister said the official casualty figures would be available by the evening, as communication channels had been destroyed by the floods and transmission of information to Delhi was taking time.

The home minister said a committee was being formed, under the stewardship of former home secretary and NDMA member V.K. Duggal, to coordinate the rescue effort.

He added that according to a preliminary report, two cloud bursts in the area caused the disaster.

The minister said Uttarakhand government was creating a live database which could be accessed by people and also agencies involved in the rescue effort.

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