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Uttarakhand flash flood: Nine found in tunnel died of suffocation due to drowning, says medical officer

During the postmortem of six bodies recovered from the tunnel a week after the flash flood, doctors have found water and mud inside the lungs and stomach of the deceased.

Written by Lalmani Verma | Dehradun |
Updated: February 16, 2021 8:09:10 am
Officials visit the Tapovan tunnel, which was damaged in last Sunday’s flash flood. (PTI)

“Suffocation due to drowning” was the cause of death of the nine people whose bodies were recovered from the tunnel at NTPC’s hydropower project site in Tapovan area of Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district and they would have died within half-an-hour after slush entered the tunnel, according to the district’s Chief Medical Officer Dr G S Rana.

During the postmortem of six bodies recovered from the tunnel a week after the flash flood, doctors have found water and mud inside the lungs and stomach of the deceased.

Speaking to The Indian Express, the CMO said, “In the postmortem of six bodies recovered from the tunnel on Sunday, it appears that they would have died within half-an-hour after the mud and water entered their body during the flash flood on February 7.”

Asked about the cause of death, the CMO replied, “suffocation due to drowning”. He said the postmortem of three bodies recovered from the tunnel on Monday had also been completed but he was yet to check the reports. “The cause of death would be the same for these three bodies too because they were surrounded by slush and water,” he said. The CMO further said the cause of death is the same for people whose bodies were recovered from the Rishi Ganga power project site in Raini village as they too were trapped in slush and mud.

After a week-long exercise of removing slush from the tunnel in Tapovan, rescue teams recovered six bodies from the Intake Adit tunnel on Sunday.

After the recovery of bodies began, a temporary mortuary of four rooms was set up near the NTPC project site on Sunday and a team of four doctors deployed there to conduct post mortem.

Chamoli SP Yashwant Singh Chauhan said the postmortem of bodies recovered from the Tapovan site and Raini village was being done at the temporary mortuary in Tapovan and the identified bodies were being handed over to their families.

The postmortem of bodies recovered from other places downstream was being done at the government hospitals in Karnaprayag and Gopeshwar.

According to the report of the state emergency operation centre, a total of 55 bodies have been recovered till Monday and 149 people are still missing. On Monday, four bodies were recovered, including three from the tunnel in Tapovan and one from a river in Srinagar.

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