Rescue operations in Uttarakhand will now focus on finding the missing and those still trapped under the debris, with the army chief pledging that soldiers will stay in the state till all the affected people were evacuated to safe places.
Home minister Sushil Kumar, who arrived here to oversee rescue and relief works, said it was important to find out the number of the missing. Uttarakhand government fears 3,000 people still untraced are probably dead.
A clear weather on Friday enabled several chopper sorties to take off, evacuating 452 people from Harshil in Uttarkashi and 99 from Badrinath, while 682 reached Joshimath on foot and 750 others were on way.
Stranded women and those who are ill, aged, or disabled will be evacuated on priority basis, Shinde said. To achieve this, air force will deploy more MI-17 helicopters to evacuate stranded people, most of whom are in Badrinath Dham area.
While the home minister assured the choppers will remain in the state for 15 more days to aid in the rescue work, army chief general Bikram Singh said "we will get all the citizens out wherever they are".
Meanwhile, amid fears of a looming epidemic, scores of bodies were cremated in Kedarnath, the worst affected area, till the filing of this report. The disposal of corpses is important to eliminate the risk of contaminating the water supply and outbreak of diseases such as diarrhoea and cholera.