Rescue and relief work in the disaster-hit areas of Chamoli district in Uttarakhand gathered pace on Monday. A multi-agency operation continued to save people trapped inside the tunnels of two hydel projects that were badly damaged by the Sunday morning glacier burst-triggered deluge.
Officials told IANS that a total of 27 people have been rescued so far. Fifteen people were rescued this morning while 12 others were taken out from the debris last evening.
Jawans of the army, ITBP, NDRF, and SDRF with rescue equipment entered the tunnel with sniffer dogs in what is seen as the biggest rescue operation in the hill state since the 2013 Kedarnath disaster in which over 5,000 people were killed.
Here are some latest developments on the Uttarakhand glacier disaster:
The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) on Monday informed that rescue operations following glacier burst in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand may continue for 48 hours. "There is accessibility issue because it is a tough terrain. By road, only two teams could manage to reach Joshimath, the remaining teams were airlifted. It is difficult to predict how long, but rescue operation can possibly take 24-48 hours," SN Pradhan, Director General of NDRF, told ANI.
District Magistrate Swati Bhadoria said that the rescue operations are in progress in collaboration with NDRF teams. "Rescue operations are in progress with the NDRF teams who have brought various equipment so that we could reach the people who are stuck in the tunnel," she told ANI.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) started the rescue operation on Monday morning and since then transportation of the required load from Dehradun to Joshimath, including 122 personnel, around 5T of load, and 6 rescue canines, has been completed. "Starting from 6:45 am today, 6 Mi 17 sorties, 1 ALH sortie and 1 Chinook sortie have been carried out. Transportation of required load from Dehradun to Joshimath, including 122 personnel, around 5T of load and 6 rescue canines, has been completed," said the IAF.
Also, an Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) was tasked with the reconnaissance of the affected area by six scientists of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) along with their specialised equipment.
"Many Indian Air Force movements took place including 2 Hercules, 2 An-32 and 4 helicopters since yesterday. The movement of NDRF teams and their equipment also took place. Since morning, 3 Mi-17, 1 Chinook and 1 ALH moved. 9 outgoing and 6 incoming movements till now," said Dehradun Airport Director DK Gautam told ANI.
Top police officials told IANS that 11 bodies have been recovered so far and nearly 143 persons are still missing. There is still some confusion over the exact number of workers who are missing after Sunday's morning flash floods that brought wide-spread death and destruction in Raini and adjoining areas of the highly fragile Chamoli district. "According to our estimate, a total of 153 are missing and 11 bodies have been recovered," said state DGP Ashok Kumar.
Meanwhile, Manoj Singh Rawat, Additional Director General (ADG) Western Command, Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) took stock of the rescue operations at the Tapovan tunnel and deployed sniffer dogs for rescue operations.
(With inputs from IANS and ANI)