India Declares 5,748 Missing in Himalayan Floods


NEW DELHI – A month after massive flash floods struck the northern state of Uttarakhand, the state’s chief minister said Monday that officials will begin distributing relief funds to the families of the 5,748 declared missing.

The chief minister, Vijay Bahuguna, said last week that those who had not been found by July 15 would be declared dead, which would entitle their families to compensation of 500,000 rupees ($8,300).

However, Mr. Bahuguna said Monday in the state capital, Dehradun, that Uttarakhand was not issuing any death certificates. “We are only giving some monetary help to the family,” he said.

Families seeking compensation will have to swear in an affidavit that their relatives were lost in Uttarakhand during the floods and will be legally bound to return the amount they will receive as compensation if the missing person was found.

The search for the missing continues, Mr. Bahuguna said. “It is a big nightmare for us,” he said. “But there is always hope against hope. Let us pray that they are alive somewhere.”

The official death toll stands at 580. The flash floods affected all 13 districts of Uttarakhand on June 16-17, at the peak season for pilgrims and tourists. Out of those still missing, 4,824 are from out of state….

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