Uttarakhand dead may total 5,000: ActionAid

New Delhi, June 27 (IANS) As the search and rescue operations come to a close in most parts of flood-hit Uttarakhand, ActionAid said Thursday that the fatalities in the disaster may be closer to 5,000

Initial assessments suggest that some 300,000 people have been affected, 50,000 displaced and roughly 10,000 injured in the affected region.

"The priority ... remains helping the families search, locate and file missing persons reports and provide immediate relief in form of food packets to the communities we work with," said Barsha Chakraborty, who is coordinating relief work for ActionAid India from Dehradun.

"Roughly 27,000 people have been affected in our areas of work. Our partners in Chamoli, Rudraprayag and Tehri districts have already begun a detailed household survey to assess the number of casualties, loss of house, horses, mules and other cattle and livelihood which will be important for assessing compensation," added Debabrat Patra, the regional manager of ActionAid India in Uttarakhand.

"We are working towards ensuring that the families who have lost everything but their lives be allocated homestead land. These are families who are unlikely to go back to their villages which have been completely destroyed," he added.

Laxman Singh Negi of JANDESH, a partner NGO of ActionAid India, said one of the government hotels in Joshimath now housed 400 displaced people from 99 households on the route of valley of flowers.

"We are demanding that the displaced be allowed to stay in guest houses and hotels owned by government," he added.

A cloudburst and subsequent flooding of the Badrinath and Kedarnath areas over 10 days have caused death and destruction in the hills of Uttarakhand. Authorities have admitted that hundreds have been killed and thousands were hit.

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