The death toll from the Uttarakhand glacier disaster rose to 28 with the recovery of two more bodies, even as a multi-agency operation to rescue around 30 workers feared trapped inside a swamped tunnel at the Tapovan power project in Chamoli district continued on Tuesday. Around 170 people are still missing after the Sunday’s disaster apparently caused by a glacier burst, according to the latest data.
The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) said its personnel recovered two bodies from debris in Raini village on Tuesday morning. The workers have been trapped in the 12-foot-high and about 2.5-km-long ‘head race tunnel’ (HRT).
According to media reports, around 34 people were trapped inside a big tunnel at Tapovan. Personnel from the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and some state disaster response teams are clearing the tunnel since Sunday night that has been blocked with slush, debris and silt.
“Our teams are working to rescue about 30 workers who are trapped in the tunnel. Specialised equipment for such operations has been deployed. We are hopeful we will able to rescue everyone,” ITBP spokesperson Vivek Kumar Pandey said.
Pandey said that there is a huge amount of debris inside the tunnel. About 100 metres inside the tunnel is cleared and accessible, and it looks like about 100 metres of debris more will have to be cleared. Nearly 300 ITBP personnel are currently deployed at the site.
Meanwhile, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat on Tuesday morning conducted an aerial survey of areas affected due to glacier disaster in Chamoli. Talking to reporters, Rawat said the priority is to get to those trapped inside the tunnel and save as many lives as possible.
The about 1,500-metre tunnel has become the focal point of rescue operations in this disaster. The disaster was triggered after a portion of the Nanda Devi glacier burst through its banks in Chamoli district on Sunday, leading to an avalanche and a deluge that ripped through the Alaknanda river system in the upper reaches of the ecologically fragile Himalayas.