Rescuers dig through debris to reach 140 metres into Tapovan tunnel

Dehradun, Feb 9 : Rescuers dug overnight through debris and move about 140 metres into a blocked tunnel of the Tapovan Vishnugad hydroelectric project though there was still no contact with persons still trapped there, police officials said on Tuesday.

After overnight excavation at the project site on Dhauliganga river in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand, jawans of the Army and Indo-Tibetan Border Police entered the tunnel that was blocked due to mud debris brought by Sunday morning’s flash flood.

“The next few hours are very crucial and we may be able to open the blockade today itself,” state DGP Ashok Kumar said.

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Officials said special equipments would be used to speed up rescue operation inside the tunnel.

The state government last evening said that 197 people were missing whereas 26 bodies have been recovered so far.

The missing included persons feared trapped inside the tunnel.

However, confusion persisted on the exact number of persons rescued so far. While the state disaster control centre said in a statement that 27 persons were rescued, top police officials maintained that only 12 had been evacuated so far.

Jawans of the Army, ITBP, NDRF and SDRF entered the tunnel along with sniffer dogs on Monday morning in the biggest rescue operation in the hill state since the 2013 Kedarnath disaster in which over 5,000 persons were killed.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat again visited the disaster sites at 13.2 MW Rishiganga and 480 MW Tapovan Vishnugaud power projects on Monday evening as well as an ITBP hospital at Joshimath to ask after the health of injured workers.

While all the rescued persons were rushed to the ITBP hospital in Joshimath, two persons with bone fractures were taken to a government hospital in Gopeshwar, the district headquarters of Chamoli.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-generated from IANS service.

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