Debris in Kedarnath not cleared yet: NDMA

New Delhi, July 12 (IANS) Nearly a month after a flash flood deposited nearly a 10-foot-high mound of debris around Kedarnath shrine in Uttarakhand, not much progress has been made in clearing it, an official said Friday.

"Not much progress has been made in clearing the debris at the Kedarnath shrine," M. Shashidhar Reddy, vice chairman of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), told IANS.

Reddy cited challenges like inclement weather which have been delaying the clearing of debris.

"It was planned earlier that JCB machines will be carried on helicopters to clear the debris. But due to bad weather we are not able to take the machines there. Without the right kind of machines, it is tough to clear the debris," Reddy added.

Thousands of people have been reported missing after torrential rains wrecked havoc in the hill state last month and authorities fear that bodies buried under the mound of debris in Kedarnath Valley may start decomposing, leading to an epidemic.

Kedarnath, one of the revered pilgrimage sites for Hindus, is situated at an altitude of 3,586 mt near the head of Mandakini river in Himalayas. It can be reached after a steep 14-km-long trek.

The incessant and intense rains that hit Uttarakhand over three days starting June 14 triggered flash floods and landslides, leading to hundreds of deaths.

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