Uttarakhand glacier burst: Death toll rises to 32 as search for missing inside Tapovan tunnel continues
PTI Photo

Rescuers from multiple agencies like the ITBP, NDRF and Army continued their operation on Wednesday to penetrate deeper through tonnes of silt to reach out to workers trapped inside the Tapovan tunnel as the toll in the Uttarakhand flash floods has mounted to 32.

According to the State Government, as many as 32 bodies have been recovered so far from different areas hit by the glacier burst in Chamoli district, while 206 people including 25-35 persons stuck inside the Tapovan tunnel are missing.

The centre of operations, post the Sunday disaster in the border district of Chamoli, remains the large tunnel where an estimated 30-35 workers are believed to have been trapped after the Alaknanda river hurtled down in spate as a result of a possible glacier burst or avalanche in the Himalayas.

The rescuers are "hoping against hope" to find the workers of the Tapovan power project who have gone missing for over three days now.

The rescue operation at the 2.5 km long Tapovan tunnel in Chamoli continued on Tuesday night. The teams worked to remove slush and debris in the tunnel. Around 30 people are feared trapped inside.

Machines removed more slush from the tunnel the whole night. A joint team of ITBP, NDRF, SDRF and sister agencies entered the tunnel this morning. The tunnel is still approachable till about 120 meters. More slush and water coming from inside the tunnel is making the way ahead difficult.

A meeting of all agencies including senior officials of ITBP, NDRF, Army and local administration has been called today to decide further course of action.

The police have issued a helpline number to provide information about bodies that have not been identified yet. "People, who know someone who is missing, can contact DIG Law and Order on +91 7500016666, they will be sent photos of 24 bodies that are yet to be identified, on WhatsApp," police said.

A joint team of ITBP, NDRF, SDRF and other agencies conducting rescue operations used drone cameras to see feasibility to enter beyond cleared site inside Tapovan tunnel.

Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Amit Shah informed the Lok Sabha that efforts are underway on a war footing to rescue those who are trapped in a tunnel after a glacier burst in Chamoli district.

A glacial broke in the Tapovan-Reni area of Chamoli District of Uttarakhand on Sunday, which led to massive flooding in Dhauliganga and Alaknanda rivers and damaged houses and the nearby Rishiganga power project.

(With inputs from PTI and ANI)

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