The toll in Uttarakhand glacier burst disaster rose to 58 on Tuesday morning as rescuers recovered two more bodies from the tunnel at Tapovan power project in Chamoli district that was swept away in a flash flood on February 7, ANI reported. As many as 146 people were still missing, as the rescue operations entered its tenth day, PTI reported quoting officials.
One of the bodies was recovered past midnight, while another was recovered around 2 am on Tuesday from the tunnel, an official deputed at a temporary mortuary at Tapovan, where the bodies are being kept, told PTI. So far, 11 bodies have been recovered from the sludge-choked tunnel.
Chamoli District Magistrate Swati Bhadauria said that 29 of the bodies recovered have been identified so far, according to the Hindustan Times. “The search and rescue operation is still on inside the tunnel, where rescuers have succeeded in clearing sludge up to about 146 metres but are facing difficulty due to heavy muck inside,” Bhadauria said.
Meanwhile, the multi-agency rescue operation by the Indo-Tibetan Border Police, the National Disaster Response Force, State Disaster Response Force and the Army continued on Tuesday, mainly focused on the Tapovan tunnel, where as many as 30 people are feared to be trapped.
The disaster was set off when part of a glacier broke off, triggering flash floods and a massive avalanche in the state. The torrent washed away two power plants and five bridges.
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.