Dehradun: Rescuers have pulled out seven bodies from a tunnel while at least 170 people are still missing after a glacier burst in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand triggered a massive avalanche and floods in the Alaknanda river system Sunday. Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat said the death toll could be higher. The chief minister announced a compensation of Rs 4,00,000 to the next of kin of those killed in the ‘massive disaster’. Other sources however, said that the death toll currently stands at 10.
Two power projects were extensively damaged with due to the floods and avalanche. They are NTPC’s Tapovan-Vishnugad hydel project and the Rishi Ganga Hydel Project. Scores of labourers are still trapped in tunnels as the waters and sludge came rushing in.
Seven bodies have been recovered from one of the tunnels in Tapovan. Search for the rest of the missing people is underway by ITBP and SDRF personnel, Rawat said here.
Rawat said at least 125 people including two policemen were missing. The numbers could be higher as authorities of the damaged hydel projects are not in a position to give a precise figure. All efforts are focussed at the moment to pull out those feared trapped inside the other tunnels that are clogged with 35-40 feet of debris, Rawat said.
The Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) and the National Disaster Response Force personnel have penetrated up to 150 metres into the 250-metre-long tunnel. However, they have not been able to contact any of the trapped employees or workmen, informed the chief minister. “The extent of damage to the two hydel projects is being assessed by their management,” informed Rawat.
One motorable road and four suspension bridges connecting 7-8 villages in the area have also been washed away by the avalanche. The disconnected villages include Gahar, Bhangyun, Raini Palli, Pang Lata, Suraithota, Tolma and Fagrasu. Arrangements have been made to continue uninterrupted supplies of essentials to these villages, Rawat said.
Chamoli District Magistrate Swati S Bhadoriya and SP Yashwant Singh Chauhan are camping at the site, the chief minister said.
There are 17 gram sabha areas affected by the avalanche. Out of the 17, a total of 11 villages are inhabited. The residents of the rest had moved to lower areas during the winter, Rawat said.