Uttarakhand: 2 more bodies found in Tapovan tunnel, rescue operation intensified
The rescue operation around the Tapovan tunnel in Uttarakhand have been intensified after two bodies were recovered on Sunday. The bodies were pulled out by the personnel of Uttarakhand Police, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and State Disaster Response Force or SDRF.
"Two bodies have been recovered from the tunnel today. Search and rescue operations at Tapovan in Chamoli have been intensified following the recovery of the two bodies," Chamoli District Magistrate Swati Bhadoria said.
The rescue operation has been going on since February 7, when a glacier burst led to a sudden rise in the water level of Dhauliganga river in Chamoli district casing a flash flood. Many people and structures and swept away, along with a small hydro power plant.
Rescuers said they were still hopeful of finding survivors, notwithstanding the numerous challenges like the muck and the water from Dhauliganga constantly flowing into the tunnel. The river had deviated from its path after the flash floods that have left 38 people dead and 166 missing.
The rescuers on Saturday began boring a wider and deeper hole into the tunnel in an attempt to reach the over 30 people trapped inside for a week.
“The Silt Flushing Tunnel (SFT) was punctured on Friday night itself by drilling a 75mm-diameter hole into it but now it is being widened to 300 mm so that a camera and a water flushing pipe could be inserted into the tunnel where the trapped are possibly located,” said R P Ahirwal, the general manager of the NTPC's Tapovan-Vishnugad hydel project.
P K Tiwari, Commandant of the National Disaster Response Force, told news agency PTI that based on their experience, they are optimistic about saving lives and mentioned the possible presence of air ducts and gaps in the tunnel.
"More than 100 of our scientists are on the job. They are devising strategies and having them implemented," he said.
Most of those trapped in the tunnel worked at the power project.