NEW DELHI, June 29 (Xinhua) -- A staggering 10,000 people may have died in the monsoon floods which swept the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand two weeks ago, triggering landslides and washing away towns and roads, the state's top lawmaker said Saturday.
"No one can give the exact death count but after traveling to different disaster affected areas and information gathered from victims and other locals of the area I could say that death toll is around 10,000," the speaker of Uttarakhand Assembly, Govind Singh Kunjwal, told the media in the state capital Dehradun.
His statement contradicts authorities who have kept the death toll below 1,000 even though one of the state's ministers had earlier indicated that the figure of the deceased could cross 5, 000.
Meanwhile, authorities say they have been folding up evacuation in many parts of the state even as 4,000 people are still said to be stranded in other difficult terrains of the hilly state.
"More than 100,000 flood survivors, mostly Hindu pilgrims, have been rescued till date. People have been evacuated from many parts and rescue operations by the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force are now focused on those areas where still 4,000 people are stranded," a senior government official said.
Indian Army Chief General Bikram Singh, who visited Uttarakhand Friday, has also said that troops will remain in the state till all stranded flood survivors are rescued.
The state, popular for its holy Hindu shrines and rivers, was hit by floods on June 16. This year, the rains are said to be the heaviest in the last 60 years.