The ongoing rescue operation at the Tapovan hydel project tunnel in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli, in which about 35 workers were trapped after a snow avalanche triggered flash floods on Sunday, has hit a major hurdle with sludge continuously oozing out of it. The total death toll stands at 34.
“...The tunnel is still approachable till about 120 metres. More slush and water coming from inside the tunnel,” the ITBP had tweeted on Wednesday morning. Armed with cutting and drilling equipment, the team could move barely 20 metres ahead in the entire day and was yet to reach the T-point junction where the workers were earlier suspected to be trapped.
“NTPC officials have said that there is another tunnel about 12 metres underneath where the workers may be located. We may have to create an access route by drilling, which will consume more time,” said an official deployed at the project site for the past four days.
A total of 170 persons, including the trapped workers, are still untraced. “After the mishap, 206 people were said to be missing from different places. Two of them informed the authorities on Tuesday that they were safe. Search teams have so far recovered 34 bodies. Therefore, the total number of missing persons is now 170,” said the police officer posted in Chamoli.
Among the missing persons, 70 are from different parts of Uttarakhand, 66 from Uttar Pradesh, 13 from Jharkhand, 11 from Nepal, nine each from Bihar and Himachal Pradesh, six each from Punjab and West Bengal, four from Madhya Pradesh, three from Assam, two each from Delhi and Odisha, and one each from Haryana and J&K.
The identities of 10 of the 34 deceased have been established so far. Two of them were Uttarakhand Police Head Constable Manoj Choudhary and Constable Balbir Singh Gadhiya.