U'khand disaster: Toll rises to 32, CM meets affected villagers
Dehradun: On the third day of glacier burst disaster in Chamoli district, six bodies of unidentified people were found from different locations, taking the toll to 32 with 197 people still missing since Sunday morning.
According to the state government, the rescue operation is going on to evacuate over 35 workers who are feared trapped in the tunnel of the power project in Tapovan area. On Tuesday, a 30-member team of Indian naval commandoes — Marcos — joined the rescue operation at the site where the Army and the ITBP personnel are already battling to clear the sludge and debris from over 800 metre-long tunnel.
Police sources said all the bodies have been found from the tunnel and the riverside in the surrounding areas. The map of the tunnel with exact coordinates of the passage is being studied by the rescue teams to clear the sludge and look for the survivors. "It would be very difficult to survive in the tunnel full of sludge for more than 48 hours. The work of clearing of the sludge is taking a lot of time," said a senior state government official, on condition of anonymity.
Meanwhile, three ministers of the UP government reached Dehradun to coordinate with the Uttarakhand government for tracing over 50 missing workers who are natives of the state. The state government has established contact with the 13 villages which were cut off since the sole motor bridge had swept across the Reni village on Sunday.
Union Home minister Amit Shah told Parliament on Tuesday that as many as 197 people are missing while 20 have died in Sunday's avalanche and flash floods. He said the figures received from the state government may change and the situation is being monitored round-the-clock at the highest level by the Centre and Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself.
Shah told the Rajya Sabha that the rising water levels washed away the functional Rishiganga small hydro project of 13.2 MW and also affected the under-construction 520 MW NTPC Hydro Power Project at Tapovan on the downstream of the Dhauli Ganga river.
Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat visited Lata in Chamoli district on Tuesday to meet the residents of the avalanche-hit villages.
Rawat, who reached Tapovan on Monday evening to review rescue efforts, undertook an aerial survey of the affected areas on Tuesday and also met 12 workers who were rescued from the tunnel on Sunday evening.
The Chief Minister said important items, including ration kits, medical facilities and relief material are being transported by the local administration in these affected villages. He added that 126 people were flown by helicopter from their destination Joshimath to Tapovan and Neeti Valley, while the district administration has made arrangements for food and refreshments for the families who arrived to search for the missing people. At the NTPC power plant, 93 workers are still missing and 39 are feared to be stuck in the tunnel.
The India Air Force (IAF), meanwhile, said it had commenced operations for the day with a Mi-17 airborne from Dehradun for Joshimath with NDRF personnel on board. Also, an Advanced Light Helicopter was carrying scientists from the DRDO's to recce the Tapovan area and the glacier, the IAF said.