The Indian state of Uttarakhand initiated the process of declaring at least 130 persons missing – “presumed dead” – after the devastating flash floods on February 7.
Rescue teams have so far recovered 68 bodies.
Usually the government would declare people dead only if they have not been heard of for seven years.
However in this case, the government decided to invoke provisions of the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969 allowing persons who are missing to be declared dead before the stipulated seven-year-period.
With vast trenches of land washed out in recent flash flood authorities were still finding ways to connect isolated villages. Roads and bridges were washed away like pack of cards after a Himalayan glacier destroyed two hydropower projects and five bridges.
Uttarakhand is prone to flash floods and landslides and the disaster prompted calls by environment groups for a review of power projects in the ecologically sensitive mountains.
In June 2013, record monsoon rains there caused devastating floods that claimed close to 6,000 lives.