U’khand Tunnel Rescue Ops Resume After Being Briefly Halted

The Quint
·3-min read

Operations at Uttarakhand’s Tapovan tunnel, to rescue people stranded after the flash flood in Chamoli district, resumed on Thursday, 11 February, after being temporarily halted due to a rise in the Rishiganga river, ANI reported.

NDRF personnel told ANI that the teams were shifted to safer locations after the water level rose and the operation has resumed with limited teams.

The operations were halted earlier as there was a possibility of the rocks getting unstable due to a rise in the river water level.

“We had reached a distance of 6 metres and then realised that water is coming there. Had we continued, there would have been issues, as rocks are unstable and the excavator would have fallen. So we have suspended drilling operation for the time being,” Ujjwal Bhattacharya, Project Director NTPC, was earlier quoted by ANI.

The death toll in the tragedy rose to 35 on Thursday, 11 February, while 204 people are still feared missing.

The rescue workers on Thursday began drilling the tunnel vertically downward, in what is seen as a new strategy to save 25-35 people trapped inside a tunnel of NTPC's Tapovan hydel project, IANS reported.

“We are doing both excavation work and drilling of the tunnel, in our efforts to reach the trapped people,” DIG Nilesh Anand Bharne, who is also the spokesperson of the Uttarakhand Police, had earlier told IANS.

Also Read: Watch: Workers Purportedly Swept Away During Uttarakhand Floods

VIsuals inside the Tapovan tunnel where drilling is underway.
VIsuals inside the Tapovan tunnel where drilling is underway.
Visuals inside the Tapovan tunnel where drilling is underway.
Visuals inside the Tapovan tunnel where drilling is underway.

No Contact With Those Trapped Inside the Tunnel

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

The rescuers have managed to open a sizable portion of the tunnel but the operation has slowed down due to the presence of heavy silt inside the tunnel, ITBP officials told the media on Wednesday.

No contact has been established with the trapped people inside.

Uttarakhand Governor Baby Rani Maurya on Thursday had visited the rescue site to take stock of the ongoing operation.

Also Read: Visuals From Nepal Viral as ‘Glacier Burst in Uttarakhand’

Angst Grows Amongst Kin of Missing People

Local villagers on contract carry out rescue and restoration work near Reni village on Thursday, 11 February 2021, after Sunday’s glacier burst in Joshimath caused a massive flood in the Dhauli Ganga river, in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand.
Local villagers on contract carry out rescue and restoration work near Reni village on Thursday, 11 February 2021, after Sunday’s glacier burst in Joshimath caused a massive flood in the Dhauli Ganga river, in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand.

Groups of people comprising kin of missing individuals held protests at a number of places in the disaster-hit areas such as the Reni village and the project sites, urging the government to speed up the rescue operation and alleged that the government has only been focusing on the disaster-hit tunnel.

“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 other areas as well,” Ghanshyam Thapliyal told IANS, whose younger brother Anoop is missing.

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

“We will explore all possibilities to save the lives of the trapped people,” said DGP 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 said.

“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,” Uttarakhand CM Trivendra Singh Rawat said, as quoted by IANS.

While power has been restored in 11 out of the 13 affected villages, drinking water lines have been repaired in 10 villages so far, IANS reported.

Also Read: Uttarakhand Tragedy a Man-Made Disaster, No Act of God: Bahar Dutt

(With inputs from IANS.)

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