Uttarakhand flash floods: What has been achieved by search teams in 10 days and what still remains

By: |
February 18, 2021 4:09 PM

ITBP rescued 12 labourers a few hours after the tragedy happened from another part of the tunnel that got chocked after the rush of water damaged the hydropower project in Dhauli Ganga river

Uttarakhand floods, Dhauli Ganga project, NTPC hydrpower project, labourer bodies rescued, search operations for uttarkhand floods, bodies recovered so far, sdrf, ndrf, itbp, armyAt least 476 NDRF, SDRF, ITBP and Army personnel has been deployed for the search operations at the Uttarakhand flood sites. (IE Image)

The Uttarakhand flash floods that shook the nation on February 7 claimed several lives. It’s been more than 10 days since the tragedy; search and rescue operations continue and dozens are yet to be traced.

How search operations were conducted and what has been achieved so far

ITBP rescued 12 labourers a few hours after the accident happened from another part of the tunnel that got chocked after the rush of water damaged the hydropower project in Dhauli Ganga river downstream in Tapovan.

But the main search operation had to at a site where 34 labourers working on the project were feared to have been trapped 180 metres inside the tunnel. ITBP and NDRF workers tried to clear the debris to get out the workers but more they dug in, more they found the same.

Several alternate attempts were made to find the workers from an aerial survey using a helicopter-borne Electromagnetic Pulse Imager to get an idea as to how long is the tunnel and a drone camera was also utilized to find any evidence of humans trapped in that stretch but without any luck.

Next, the rescue text changed their strategy and started searching for another silt filtration tunnel (SFT) located 12 metres below the intake tunnel. Drilling began in the silt tunnel but more and more sludge kept interfering with the process. Only after drilling was done t a distance of 75 metres from the opening of the Intake Adit tunnel, the first breakthrough was achieved when six bodies trapped into the SFT were recovered after 7 days, Till now, 11 bodies have been found.

Bodies were also recovered from multiple other sites like another hydropower project in Raini village, 5 km upstream from the NTPC site, in the Dauli Ganga and Alaknanda rivers in districts of Rudraprayag, Chamoli and Tehri Garhwal.

What lies ahead for the rescue team?

So far 58 bodies have been traced from all the sites, 146 people are still missing.

About 5 per cent of the 2.5-km long tunnel at TNPC’s project has been cleared. 34 labourers are feared to have been trapped at 180m depth while three other 1.7 km inside.

Ten days now, there is hardly any hope for any labourer who is yet to found to have survived. Chamoli Chief Medical Officer Dr G S Rana said that the labourers who were trapped in the tunnel and in Raini village died within half an hour.

Nevertheless, the entire tunnel will be cleared of all the slush to recover the bodies. The search operations will continue until all the missing persons have not been found, DGP Ashok Said without giving a time frame.

Huge deposits of mud and silt around the barrage in Tapovan and on both banks of the Rishi Ganga river in Raini village is causing challenges for the search team but as the temperatures rise the much will dry up helping the teams to direct their search to newer sites closer to the river for the missing persons.

It is not yet clear if any of the people who were washed away by the river near the barrage on the Dhauli Ganga could be traced.

At least 476 NDRF, SDRF, ITBP and Army personnel has been deployed for the search operations along with medical officers, police and fire and Revenue Department workers in all the sites from Raini village to Srinagar downstream. Another 326 personnel are standing by.

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