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Tuesday, March 02, 2021

Uttarakhand glacier burst: 12 more bodies recovered; toll rises to 50

The bodies have been kept at a temporary mortuary built in Tapovan. Chamoli District Magistrate Swati S Bhadauria said a helicopter has been kept ready at the site to provide medical help to survivors, if any. Around 160 people are still missing.

Written by Lalmani Verma | Dehradun |
Updated: February 15, 2021 7:44:10 am
Uttarakhand glacier burst: 12 more bodies recovered; toll rises to 50Rescue operation under way at the Tapovan tunnel. (Photo: Uttarakhand Information Department)

A WEEK AFTER a flash flood struck Chamoli district of Uttarakhand and choked the intake adit tunnel of NTPC’s hydro power project in Tapovan after washing away another power project establishment upstream, rescue teams Sunday recovered five bodies from the tunnel.

A total of 12 bodies were recovered on Sunday — five from the tunnel, six from the power project site 5 km upstream in Raini village, and one from the Alaknanda river, downstream in Rudraprayag.

With this, the total confirmed casualties in the flash flood climbed to 50. Over 150 people continue to be missing.

Garhwal Divisional Commissioner Ravinath Raman told The Indian Express that the first body was recovered 130 metres inside the tunnel at 5.30 am Sunday, and the other four bodies were recovered 10 metres farther. Rescue teams are heading in the same direction, he said.

Uttarakhand disaster, Tapovan tunnel, Uttarakhand rescue work, Uttarakhand flash floods, Uttarakhand glacier blast, NTPC's Tapovan-Vishnugad hydel project, Uttarakhand rescue operation, india news, indian express Rescue works undeway at ground Zero near Raini Village on Wednesday after a glacier broke off in Joshimath causing massive flood in Dhauli Ganga River, in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand. (Express file photo by Gajendra Yadav)

According to a release from DIG (Law and Order) Neelesh Anand Bharney, out of 50 bodies recovered so far, 24 have been identified. Also, one of the 23 recovered body parts has been identified. He said 32 FIRs have been registered at Joshimath police station in connection with missing people. Unidentified bodies and body parts have been kept for identification in hospitals of Joshimath, Gopeshwar and Karnprayag.

Among the bodies identified, 11 are from Uttarakhand, nine from Uttar Pradesh, two from Jammu and Kashmir and one each from Haryana, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh.

Teams of engineers from NTPC and other rescue personnel had successfully drilled into the Silt Filtration Tunnel (SFT), which is 12 metres below the intake adit tunnel, at the Tapovan site and had developed a 30 centimetre diameter bore-well Saturday night. The camera, however, could not be lowered due to the high pressure of muck inside.

The bore-well was plugged and rescuers resumed the exercise of slush removal from the intake adit tunnel. It was during the removal of slush that rescue teams recovered the first body at a distance of 130 metre in the tunnel.

Site of the Tapovan hydel project as rescue works underway, a day after a glacier broke off in Joshimath causing massive flood in Dhauli Ganga River, in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand, Monday, Feb 8, 2021. (Express photo by Gajendra Yadav).

Garhwal Divisional Commissioner Raman said the entire 2.5 km tunnel will be cleared of slush and checked because bodies can be anywhere inside. But no timeframe can be given about that. He said the operation would continue till all missing are accounted for.

He said three more workers were trapped at a distance of 1.7 km inside the intake adit tunnel which has a dead end. The time to reach this distance may take several days, Raman said.

State government officials said a search operation had also been started near the barrage in Dhauli Ganga river in Tapovan where slush with water is upto a height of 20 metres and rescue teams have started developing a platform there to search for those missing.

Raman said there was no threat due to continuous water discharge from the lake formed in the upstream of Raini village.

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