Uttarakhand flash floods: Rescue work disrupted briefly at Tapovan
Rescue workers in a tunnel of the Tapovan power project, in which about 30 workers are feared trapped after the flash floods of February 7 caused by a glacier burst, in Uttarakhand, on February 11, 2021.IANS

Uttarakhand flash floods: Rescue work disrupted briefly at Tapovan

Dehradun, February 11, 2021

The rescue operations to find 25-35 trapped people in a tunnel was repeatedly disrupted, albeit briefly, in the disaster-hit Tapovan project area of Chamoli district in Uttarakhand on Thursday following an increase in the flow of Dhauliganga river and technical snags in drilling machines.

The workers were trapped inside a tunnel of the Tapovan hydro-electric project after flash floods caused by a glacier burst.

"The rescue work inside the tunnel resumed in the evening after a brief interruption due to increase of flow in Dhauliganga river," said Navneet Bhullar, commandant of the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF), who is camping at the Tapovan site.

Earlier, the rescue workers had started drilling the tunnel vertically downward. But within hours, the drilling work was intermittently disrupted due to technical reasons. A few hours later, the flow of Dhauliganga started increasing, which in turn disrupted the rescue work.

As the flows subsided, the rescue work again resumed in the evening, said Bhullar.

Ever since the excavation and digging work began inside the tunnel, the rescuers had been working on multi-pronged strategies in their desperate bid to open the tunnel, which was blocked by the Sunday morning deluge.

The rescuers have also used remote sensing technologies for geographical mapping of the tunnel.

"We have used geographical mapping of the disaster-hit tunnel in the operation," said Ridhim Agarwal, DIG, SDRF.

The rescue work had slowed down on Tuesday due to the presence of heavy silt inside the tunnel of the disaster-hit Tapovan hydel project in Chamoli district. Director General of PoliceAshok Kumar had stated that all possibilities will be explored to save the lives of the trapped people.

After days of digging and excavation works, jawans of the army, ITBP, NDRF and SDRF, who are engaged in the rescue works, had managed to open a sizeable portion of the tunnel. But the presence of heavy silt and sludge inside the tunnel slowed down the rescue work, top government officials admitted.

Rescuers also consulted NTPC officials to understand the complicated design of the tunnel.

However, there is still no contact with the trapped people inside.

The state government has stated that around 200 people are missing after the disaster, of which 34 bodies have been recovered so far.


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