Three days after the glacier burst, the rescue operation inside the Tapovan tunnel at NTPC's damaged hydel project site is still on.
Around 25 to 35 people are feared trapped in the tunnel since the avalanche hit Joshimath area of Chamoli district on Sunday. The multi-agency rescue operation is focusing on reaching them as soon as possible but chances of their survival have been decreasing by the hour.
Personnel of the army, State Disaster Response Force, National Disaster Response Force, and Sashastra Seema Bal are engaged in the rescue operation.
Huge boulders embedded in the debris inside the Tapovan tunnel are causing the biggest hindrance to the operation, ITBP Deputy Commandant A K Dabral said.
The joint rescue team has reached up to 130 metres inside the 2.5-km long Tapovan tunnel, but there is a lot of debris clogging it, he said, adding that people feared trapped inside should be at around 200 metres.
Dabral said personnel of different agencies are coordinating and working with a defined strategy to get to those trapped inside.
Kedarnath MLA Manoj Rawat said more sophisticated equipment such as excavators and Pokland machines should be brought in to expedite the rescue operation.
The death toll in the Uttarakhand disaster has risen to 32 with six more bodies being recovered on Tuesday. In addition, 174 people are still missing after the sudden flood in the Alaknanda river in Chamoli district that was possibly triggered by the avalanche or glacier burst. About 70 missing workers are from Uttar Pradesh, an official in Lucknow said. Among them, 34 are from Lakhimpur Kheri district alone.
About 600 rescue workers from different agencies are involved in the operation.
(With inputs from PTI)