'All hope was lost': Uttarakhand workers recall hours spent trapped in tunnel
One of the 16 people rescued by a team of Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) from a tunnel on Sunday has said that the group had lost all hope, but are lucky to be alive.
"We were inside the tunnel when someone shouted 'move out'. But before we could leave, water entered tunnel at high speed and we got stuck. We held tunnel crown until water level subsided," the labourer told news agency ANI.
We had lost hope but ITBP saved us, he added.
The ITBP, along with other rescue forces like National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), the army and Uttarakhand Police, has been engaged in pulling people out from under the debris caused by sudden rush of water following a glacier bust yesterday in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand.
The flash flood caused by it led to sudden swelling of water level in Dhauliganga and other tributaries of the Ganga river and destroyed a small hydeoelectric power station.
More bodies were recovered on Monday, which took the death toll to 18. The state government officials said that the death toll could go up further.
Two power projects - NTPC’s Tapovan-Vishnugad project and the Rishiganga hydel project - were extensively damaged with scores of labourers caught in tunnels as the waters came rushing in.
A group of workers trapped in a tunnel in the Tapovan area were rescued by the ITBP team on Sunday.
"Our teams worked overnight 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 today.
Pandey said nearly 300 ITBP personnel are currently deployed at the site.
The rescuers are now trying to enter another tunnel where more workers are believed to be trapped. Teams of the NDRF had reached the spot late on Sunday night and were seen using shovels to clear the tunnel's approach. The force also used canine squads to help rescuers detect traces of life under the debris.