As the rotten smell of decomposed bodies, animal carcasses and floating wood makes it difficult for rescuers to remove the dead buried under mounds of rubble in Kedarnath Valley, the Uttarakhand government is planning to fumigate the area with herbal spray.
That should make it easier for airdropped men to dig out the bodies and cremate them, the state's health minister said.
According to Uttarakhand health minister Surinder Singh Negi, the main problem the rescue teams are facing at the moment is to enter the Kedarnath Valley, the worst affected in the June 14-17 incessant rains that triggered landslides. Hundreds have died and an equal number of people are missing in the state.
"At the moment, our prime focus is on the Kedarnath Valley. Our prime need is to take out the bodies buried under at least 10-20 feet of rubble," Negi told IANS in an interview.
"The main question we faced was how to enable rescue teams to enter the area, where it is said many bodies are buried. The teams found it extremely difficult to airdrop in these areas because of the rising stench, which is increasing every day due to the incessant rains," Negi added.
"We are now planning to use herbal sprays which will make the air around that area a little breathable. This will then enable the teams to get down, use the earth moving machines and dig out the dead. The dead can then be given a decent funeral," Negi added.
The minister also said they will use the spray in the entire 14 km stretch that leads to the Kedarnath shrine.
While over 100,000 people have been evacuated from the Uttarakhand region, many hundreds are still missing.
According to officials and eyewitnesses, many hundreds have been buried under debris in the Kedarnath Valley.
Negi said they have already sprayed bleaching powder over the Kedarnath Valley to prevent the bodies from decaying.
"There are human bodies as well as animal carcasses in the Kedarnath Valley area. The rising stench has made rescue work difficult," Negi said.
He also said there was a fear that the floating bodies in the river and streams could cause an epidemic.
"So far, there is no reason for an outbreak. We are monitoring the situation. We are getting the help of central health teams, who are stationed here," Negi said.