National Disaster Response Force 
(NDRF) personnel engaged in rescue efforts in the Tapovan tunnel after the flash floods caused by a glacier burst in Uttarakhand on February 7, 2021.
National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel engaged in rescue efforts in the Tapovan tunnel after the flash floods caused by a glacier burst in Uttarakhand on February 7, 2021.

Uttarakhand floods: 34 bodies recovered, rescue operations continue

New Delhi, February 10, 2021

As rescue operations are underway in the aftermath of Sunday's flash floods at Raini village in Tapovan area of Chamoli district in Uttarakhand, the state government on Wednesday said that at least 34 bodies have been recovered, while 206 people are still feared missing.

However, two employees of Rishi Ganga Power Corporation Ltd, reported missing after the disaster, were later located near their residence.

According to the government officials, rescue efforts are on to evacuate about 25 to 35 people, who are currently trapped inside a tunnel in the Tapovan region.

The officials added that 100 State Disaster Response Force (SDRF), 176 National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), 425 Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) personnel, 124 Army personnel, four healthcare teams of Uttarakhand and 16 fire officials have been deployed in the flood-affected areas.

Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat has been constantly monitoring the relief and rescue operations.

"There is no shortage of daily essential commodities in the flood-hit areas, even as relief assistance is being provided to the kin of the deceased. Efforts are on to establish the identity of the bodies through collected DNA samples," he said.

At least 360 families from 13 villages in the border area were affected following the disruption in road links due to the catastrophe.

Except for Pang and Murada, which were the the worst affected villages, power has been restored in all the remaining 11 villages. Drinking water lines have been repaired in 10 villages and work is underway in the remaining others.

Meanwhile, as the rescue work slowed down in the disaster-hit areas of Chamoli district, the angst among the close relatives of those who are missing is growing as they feel the search operation is lingering on.

Groups of people held protests at a number of places in the disaster-hit areas such as Reni village and the project sites, urging the government to speed up the rescue operation.

They even accused the government of putting its main focus on the disaster-hit tunnel of NTPC's 520 MW Tapovan Vishnugaud project that was blocked by the deluge on Sunday morning.

"We want quick results. We don't have time. They are focusing only on the tunnel and forgetting that a large number of people have gone missing in the other areas as well," said Ghanshyam Thapliyal, whose younger brother Anoop is missing.

The agitating locals also lodged a protest with the district administration in this regard.

The work has slowed down since Tuesday due to the presence of heavy silt inside a tunnel of the disaster-hit Tapovan hydel project in Chamoli district.

"We will explore all the possibilities to save the lives of the trapped people," said Director General of Police Ashok Kumar, denying that the search operations have slowed down in the other areas.

"We are conducting searches with the help of boats at a number of places in the Alakananda river," Kumar added.

The rescuers are toiling hard to save 25-35 people trapped inside the tunnel of the Tapovan Vishnugaud project.

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

Rescuers are using special gadgets in the search to speed up the rescue operation inside the tunnel. However, no contact has been established yet with the trapped people inside.


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