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Chamoli flash flood; Three more bodies from Tapovan tunnel makes the toll 54

Three more bodies recovered from the Tapovan tunnel, taking the toll in the Uttarakhand flash flood to 54. Till now nine bodies have been found from Adit tunnel at the National Thermal Power Corporation’s ‘s Tapovan-Vishnugad project site. All of them lost lives choked by debris after the February 7 flood which ripped into two hydel plants in the Alaknanda river system.

150 others are still missing. The multi-agency rescue effort in Chamoli district is working on the Tapovan tunnel. 30 workers were trapped in the tunnel. Officials said they were working on it by widening a hole drilled into the tunnel system. But this does not seemed to be working. Plans to install a camera or tube failed as the hole is filled with sludge. Rescuing appears working only with the help of excavators but the process is too slow.

Asked about the chances of return of those missing, the district magistrate said, “We must always try to be hopeful when the circumstances are adverse.” Families of some of them are still near the tunnel with hope and fear. Twenty-nine of the 54 bodies found so far have been identified.

The last rites of those pulled out dead are being carried out after samples are taken for DNA tests to help establish their identities. Kits with foodgrain and other essentials are distributed among residents of over a dozen villages that were cut off from the district headquarters after the disaster. Electricity supply has been restored in all affected villages except Pang.

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