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Natural Disasters

India: Almost 6,000 'presumed dead' following June floods

About 6,000 people listed as missing in northern India following last month's flash floods are presumed dead, authorities have said. The announcement allows the government to begin paying victims' relatives compensation.

Officials in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand announced on Monday that all those untraced would be declared dead, adding to the existing toll of roughly 900.

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna told a press conference in the state capital that "5,748 people are listed as missing and the process of compensation to their families will begin tomorrow on the assumption they are dead."

"We will issue the list later today," he added.

The state government has offered to pay 500,000 rupees ($8,325, 6,391 euros) to the families of each of the local residents listed as missing. The Uttarakhand government will also set up a fund to allow 500,000 rupees to be given to each child orphaned in the disaster, Bahuguna said.

Many of the remaining victims were pilgrims and tourists visiting Hindu shrines in Uttarakhand and will likely be cared for by their respective governments.

In mid-June heavy monsoon rains triggered devastating landslides and flash floods, destroying entire villages and towns.

The disaster, which became known as a "Himalayan tsunami" by officials and media, prompted one of the largest airlifts in the history of the Indian military, as helicopters rescued tens of thousands of pilgrims and tourists trapped in flooded villages

More than 100,000 people are believed to have been rescued in land and air operations.

ccp/mkg (AFP, Reuters, dpa)