Rescue work stuck at Uttarakhand’s Tapovan amid irregular water levels

Fate of 34 trapped workers in a tunnel area remains uncertain six days after ‘glacial burst’ hit Uttarakhand’s remote area in Chamoli district

Rescue teams continue to work at the Tapovan tunnel. Pic: Twitter

Rescue work at Uttarakhand’ Tapovan hydel project site and adjoining areas is painstakingly slow. The digging for a route leading directly to the tunnel on Thursday to reach the 34 trapped workers didn’t help. And later the Dhualiganga water level started rising again, putting paid to rescue efforts.

Media reports said 36 bodies have been recovered from different areas following a sudden rush of enormous snow from a hill in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand. Over 200 people are still missing six days after the so-called glacial burst. The officials told the media that the terrain is a huge limitation to the rescue process.

The Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) and the Army are part of the multi-agency rescue effort.

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Earlier on Thursday, the rescue operation was temporarily halted following a rise in the level of water in the Rishiganga river. The Chamoli police also said the water level in the Rishiganga is also rising and that the people have been alerted. Heavy machinery such as excavators, oil tankers were also moved to higher ground and were brought back only after 4 pm on Thursday.

Ravinath Raman, commissioner of the state’s Garhwal division said there was certainty how long the rescue operation will continue. “We are trying our best to save the men,” he said.

Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat has cleared the relocation of over 50 families living in areas vulnerable to natural disasters in the state’s four districts, reports said.

Officials at Tapovan Hydropower Project said the workers had been trained and are equipped enough to deal with a critical situation.

Also read: Uttarakhand disaster: Big infra projects threaten fragile Himalayan region

Indian Navy teams have also been deployed in Shrinagar, 150 km from the Ground Zero of the disaster as bodies had been washed away afar.

“Navy divers are looking for videos at possible locations. We have also started the last rites of the bodies 72 hours after these were recovered. There are places where a helicopter cannot land so we have dispatched teams which have delivered essential items,” said Swati Bhadauria, district magistrate of Chamoli.

 

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