Uttarakhand police have recovered skeletal remains of 68 more persons, who had died during the June flash floods, from the higher reaches of the Kedarnath valley that is now accessible because of clear weather.
A 25-member police team has recovered and cremated the remains of 378 people so far, 166 in the past four days alone, in the valley.
Clear weather conditions have helped the police intensify the search for bodies at high-altitude ridges, where many pilgrims had escaped to save their lives during the floods.
As many as 68 bodies were pulled out of flood debris on steep ridges above the Alaknanda River valley. The bodies were recovered between Kedarnath shrine area and Rambara, areas worst hit by the flash floods.
"Despite improved weather conditions, our team has been working under tiring conditions from morning till evening. But it has to be done, we cannot shirk our responsibilities," said deputy inspector general of police (Garhwal) Amit Sinha.
Inspector general of police RS Meena said the bodies were being cremated after necessary rituals and other formalities like DNA sampling, preservation of the ornaments worn by them like bangles, rings etc for identification.
Over 200 bodies were extricated in the previous two rounds with sources saying the official toll has crossed the 1000 mark. However, NGOs and others fear thousands have perished in the tragedy with many not yet found due to inhospitable hilly terrain.
The operation likely to continue till Sunday is being carried out by mountaineers and commandos of Uttarakhand police at a height of 12500-13000 ft.
"If weather permits, the team will scour Junglechatti, Rambada, Gaurigaon and Bheembali areas of the valley where we expect to find bodies," he said.