Uttarakhand tragedy: Two bodies found inside tunnel

Dehradun, Feb 14 (IANS) Rescuers on Sunday found two bodies inside a tunnel where 25-35 people are reportedly trapped at the disaster-hit Tapovan hydro power project in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district.

During the excavation work, two bodies were found inside the tunnel in the early morning, said SDRF officials from Tapovan project.

This is the first time since February 7 the rescuers have been able to find bodies inside the tunnel.

Officials claimed the rescue work had been sped up with the installation of some additional machines like excavators on Saturday.

Presently, the rescuers are working on two strategies — drilling a big hole vertically downward on one hand and digging and excavating debris and sludge inside the tunnel on the other.

With the recovery of two more bodies, the total has gone up to 40. Nearly 200 people went missing after the February 7 deluge caused by a glacier break.

There is still no contact with the trapped remaining people inside.

Two days ago, the rescue workers had started drilling the tunnel vertically downward. But within hours, the drilling work was also intermittently disrupted due technical reasons. The rescuers made another attempt on Friday night and made a small hole vertically downward. Thereafter, rescuers started widening the hole.

After days of digging and excavation, personnel of army, ITBP, NDRF and SDRF, who are engaged in the rescue works, had managed open a sizeable portion of the tunnel.

However, the presence of heavy silt and sludge inside the tunnel slowed down the excavation and digging work, top government officials admitted. Rescuers also consulted NTPC officials to understand the complicated design of the tunnel.

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