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Uttarakhand Tragedy: 2 Cops Among 32 Dead; Boulders Hamper Rescue Mission in Tapovan Tunnel

The rescue operations continued well into the night on Tuesday. The operation to rescue those trapped in the tunnel is being carried out by the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) and ITBP personnel.

The rescue operations continued well into the night on Tuesday. The operation to rescue those trapped in the tunnel is being carried out by the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) and ITBP personnel.

The combined rescue team has reached up to 130 metres inside the tunnel but there is a lot of debris clogging it. People feared trapped inside the tunnel are said to be at around 200 metres.

Dehradun: Five more bodies of the around 170 missing in the Uttarakhand disaster were recovered from the debris in Raini village on Tuesday, while rescuers worked through tonnes of muck and slush to rescue more than 30 workers trapped in a tunnel at a power project site in Tapovan, State Emergency Control Centre said. Two policemen deployed at the plant are among the deceased.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah also issued a statement in Rajya Sabha on the tragedy and asserted that all agencies of Centre and State are monitoring the situation on a war-footing. Members of Rajya Sabha also paid tribute to victims of the disaster.

In Lok Sabha, Shah said that Centre is monitoring the situation. “PM himself is monitoring it. Both the control rooms of the Home Ministry are monitoring the situation round the clock and the state is being provided with all the possible help,” he said.

Tunnel rescue hits roadblock - and boulders

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Huge boulders embedded in the debris inside the Tapovan tunnel are causing the biggest hindrance to the ongoing search operations at the NTPC's damaged hydel project site here, ITBP Deputy Commandant A K Dabral said. Around 39 people are feared trapped in the tunnel since the avalanche hit Joshimath area of Chamoli district on Sunday with rescue efforts by multiple agencies focused on reaching them as soon as possible.

The combined rescue team has reached up to 130 metres inside the tunnel but there is a lot of debris clogging it, he said. People feared trapped inside the tunnel should be at around 200 metres, he said. Personnel of the Army, State Disaster Response Force, National Disaster Response Force, Sashastra Seema Bal are coordinating and working with a defined strategy to get to those trapped inside, Dabral said.

However, some feel that more sophisticated equipment should be engaged to expedite the rescue operations. Kedarnath MLA Manoj Rawat said excavators and Pokland machines should be brought in to speed up the process.

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Meanwhile, search efforts at the now-demolished hydel project site at Raini also picked up pace on Tuesday with heavy mechanical equipment tearing through the debris deposited there by the avalanche. SDRF personnel have been able to throw ropes across the Rishi Ganga river and are installing trolleys there as an alternative arrangement to transport food and other essentials to the residents of villages cut off due to the washing away of three pedestrian bridges and a motorable bridge in the area.

Essentials are being supplied to these villages at present by helicopters. Besides, people stranded in these villages are also being evacuated by helicopters. Around 150 residents were evacuated from these villages on Tuesday by helicopters, Additional Information Officer Ravindra Negi said.

Also Read: As Rescue Ops Continue in Uttarakhand, News18 Explains How Long People Can Survive Under Rubble

first published:February 09, 2021, 11:57 IST