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Indian lawmaker says flooding death toll could reach 10,000

June 30, 2013 at 12:39 AM

DEHRADUN, India, June 30 (UPI) -- A state legislative leader said Saturday the death toll from recent flooding in northern India may reach 10,000, a claim denounced by a government official.

"No one can give exact death figures but after traveling to different disaster-affected areas and [based on] information gathered from victims and other locals of the area I would say that death toll is around 10,000," Govind Singh Kunjwal, speaker of the Uttarakhand state assembly, told the Hindustan Times.

Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna, who has pegged the death toll at more than 1,000 people, said Kunjwal is wrong, though he conceded the figure may rise once he flood debris is cleaned up. .

State Relief Minister Yashpal Arya had said a week ago the total number of people killed could reach 5,000, rankling some upper-level government officials, the Times said.

"The figure as of now stands at around 1,000," national Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde told the Times in a phone interview. "It could go up after the clearance of debris at Kedarnath and other places."

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