Five years after massive floods and landslides hit Kedarnath and adjoining areas, skeletal remains of the victims of the tragedy have been recovered once again during a three-day search operation, police said.
As many as 21 skeletal remains, including four skulls, were recovered from the area around the Himalayan shrine, Additional Director General of Police Ashok Kumar told PTI after the teams which conducted the operation submitted a report Monday.
The operation was conducted on different routes around the shrine by five teams of police personnel, each headed by SP-rank officers, he said.
The teams took DNA samples and performed the last rites of the remains Sunday, Kumar said.
Majority of the skeletal remains were found close to the Rambara and Trijuginarayan trek routes to the temple.
Rambara used to be a major stopover on the way to Kedarnath and was bustling with devotees at the time when the deluge hit and completely washed it away.
Police had launched the operation on October 12 in compliance with a high court order in 2016 asking the state government to conduct fresh searches to find if there were more remains of victims buried in the affected areas.
The order had come in response to a PIL which contended that despite the state government admitting that around 3,500 people had gone missing after the devastating deluge, only 450 bodies were recovered.
A total of 31 skeletal remains were recovered from the forests near Trijuginarayan area in Rudraprayag district in October 2016, more than three years after the calamity.
The 2013 Kedarnath tragedy killed thousands of people after heavy rains led to the collapse of the Chaurabari Lake located above the shrine, causing flashfloods.