Uttarakhand floods: Water accumulation inside Tapovan tunnel hampers rescue efforts

It has been 11 days since the calamity struck following the burst of a glacier in Rishiganga, and the hopes of families waiting for their missing kin are also on the wane

Press Trust of India February 17, 2021 21:08:01 IST
Uttarakhand floods: Water accumulation inside Tapovan tunnel hampers rescue efforts

Search and rescue operations underway at Tapovan tunnel. ANI

Tapovan: Rescuers pumped out the water accumulated in the NTPC's flood-ravaged Tapovan tunnel on Wednesday as they continued efforts on the 11th day to find survivors of the 7 February glacial disaster.

Sludge clearing at the adit tunnel, where eleven bodies were recovered recently, was temporarily suspended since Tuesday evening due to the seepage of water which was flushed out with the help of submersible pumps provided by the NTPC, NDRF Commandant PK Tiwari told PTI.

"Removal of wet debris with JCBs is difficult. So it was decided to resume muck clearing only after flushing out water accumulated inside the intake adit tunnel," he said.

However, the debris clearing exercise resumed at 3.15 pm after pumping out water, NDRF Deputy Commandant AP Singh said.

It seems reaching the possible location of those feared trapped inside a lower tunnel running parallel to the adit tunnel will take longer as rescue personnel have been able to go only up to 150 metres inside intake adit, Tiwari said.

"The biggest challenge is the fresh slush flowing in as we move ahead clearing the debris inside the tunnel," Tiwari said.

Apart from scouring inside the tunnel and near the barrage of the NTPC's Tapovan-Vishnugad project site, the NDRF rescue teams are also searching along the banks of the Alaknanda river and near a temple in Raini where villagers suspect some people to be trapped, he said.

It is the eleventh day since the calamity struck following the burst of a glacier in Rishiganga, and the hopes of families waiting for their missing kin are also on the wane.

There is no longer a crowd of waiting relatives near Tapovan tunnel, while the one seen on the way to the Tapovan barrage is thinning away with just a couple of persons seen on Wednesday making enquiries about the missing.

So far, 58 bodies of disaster victims have been recovered including 11 from a tunnel in Tapovan, while 146 people are still missing.

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