Uttarakhand Glacier Burst Death Toll Touches 50 as More Bodies Pulled Out, Hope for Survivors Dim

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A week after the glacier burst in Uttarakhand triggered massive flash floods, officials recovered five more bodies from the Tapovan tunnel on Sunday, where rescue operations are still underway.

“Three bodies recovered while taking out muck by machines from the intake Adit tunnel at 04.45 and 05.30 AM at around 120 to 125 mtrs distance from start point,” ITBP spokesperson Vivek Pandey told News 18. The two employees at National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) Tapovan project have been identified as Amal Singh, resident Tehri and Anil from Dehradun.

At least 39 people are trapped in this tunnel and three more bodies now visible on the slope near the cleared muck area. Explaining the rescue operations, Ravender Singh, Information Officer of Uttarakhand government said that the bodies were found from the silt flushing tunnel which was drilled into on Friday night. “The bodies were found right near the mouth of the drilled part of the silt tunnel. They were immediately identified and handed over to family,” he said.

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A three-pronged strategy is now being used by rescuers, while JCB machines have cleared slush upto 125 meters from the Intake Audit side, now smaller machines have been pressed into service as the tunnel narrows down beyond this point.

From the riverside machines have been at work to remove debris while the drilled portion is being used to look for survivors/remains in the slit tunnel. A hole of about 300 mm diameter was drilled into from where the bodies were recovered.

On Saturday, machines worked to divert water and slush flow from left bank to right bank of Dhauli Ganga river. “Machines are trying to divert the water flow to the centre or right bank of the river to make rescue efforts safer in view of any sudden water level rise in the river,” ITBP statement stated. So far, a total of 40 dead bodies have been recovered so far while 164 are still missing.

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The Mucking in intake Adit Tunnel has now reached 145m. Rescue authorities said that a 300mm diameter 12m deep bore hole was drilled in Intake Adit to puncture Silt Flushing Tunnel below Adit in the night yesterday. “The water level in the borehole is under observations for a further action plan,” officials said. More than 325 Engineers, officers, geologists, scientists, and other Associates are engaged in rescue operations. Authorities said that arrangements have been made for Lodging and Boarding, Medical supports etc for kith and kins near the rescue site.

On Sunday, a glacier break in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district resulted in an avalanche and huge floods in the Alaknanda and Dhauliganga rivers on Sunday morning, forcing the evacuation of thousands, and damaging both houses and the nearby Rishiganga and NTPC power projects.

Uttarakhand Chief Minister has also announced Rs 4 lakh compensation for the family of those killed. Rawat also said teams from the police, the Army, and the ITBP, as well as from the national and state disaster response forces, were “doing their best to save the lives of the workers at sites affected by the disaster”.

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