The toll from the Uttarakhand glacier disaster rose to 56 on Monday as hundreds of rescue workers scoured mud-filled ravines in search of survivors for the ninth day, reported ANI, quoting the State Disaster Response Force.

The disaster was set off when part of a glacier broke off on February 7, triggering flash floods and a massive avalanche in the state. The torrent washed away two power plants and five bridges.

The rescue operation was under way at the Tapovan tunnel in Joshimath area of Chamoli district, where over 30 workers of a hydropower electric plant have been out of contact since the flood. Rescuers used excavators and shovels to clear sludge from the tunnel in an attempt to reach the workers as hopes for their survival faded.

National Disaster Response Force Commandment PK Tiwari on Sunday said that they are facing a few difficulties in taking out the bodies. “Tonnes of the debris is stuck inside the tunnel,” he told ANI. “There is a limitation to the amount of work that can be done.”

On Saturday, rescuers began drilling a deeper hole into the tunnel to reach those trapped inside the tunnel. Officials said the hole, which will have a diameter of one feet, will help in sending the camera to ascertain the location of the workers. The passage will also be used to insert a pipe to flush out accumulated water from the tunnel.

Meanwhile, the Uttarakhand Police on Sunday said that the River Alaknanda was flowing at normal levels in the state and that no alert had been issued by the district administration.

The Indo-Tibetan Border patrol on Sunday said around six bodies were recovered in Raini locality, reported NDTV.

Scientists from the Geological Survey of India have said, prima facie, the flash floods were caused by glacial calving at the highest altitude in Rishiganga and Dhauliganga area. Experts say that the disaster underscores the fragility of the Himalayan mountains that has been drastically altered with the advent of power projects and other developmental activities in the region.

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