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Uttarakhand: Glacier Burst 26 killed, 171 still missing; rescue ops underway in Tapovan tunnel

Rescue operations are still underway even as 26 bodies have been recovered from various places in Uttarakhand after flash floods were caused apparently by a glacier burst on Sunday.

Twenty-six bodies have been recovered and 171 are still missing after the glacier burst in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district, as per DGP Ashok Kumar.

“Till 8 pm of 8th February, 26 bodies have been recovered. 171 people still remain missing out of which around 35 are supposed to be in the Tunnel where rescue operation is still going on,” tweeted Ashok Kumar, DGP, Uttarakhand.

This comes even as multiple agencies joined hands to rescue at least 30 workers trapped in a 250-metre tunnel at Tapovan. Rescue efforts in the affected areas near Joshimath, gained momentum with teams of the Army, Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) coordinating to rescue 30-35 people feared trapped in a tunnel at the Tapovan-Vishnugad project.

Officials said 27 people were rescued alive. Of these, 12 were saved from the smaller of the two tunnels at the Tapovan-Vishnugad project site and 15 from the Rishiganga site.

ITBP personnel from the Tapovan tunnel near Chamoli amid the Uttarakhand glacier burst.

“We were on duty inside the tunnel when people started screaming, asking us to come out. We were surprised, thinking of what could have happened. All of a sudden, water rushed inside the tunnel in force and trapped us; we could not come out. We were 300 metres inside the tunnel. We started clinging on to iron rods hanging from the ceiling so that our faces were above the water. We stayed like that for an hour,” a visibly shaken Sunil told us, sitting on his hospital bed.

Uttarakhand Director General of Police Ashok Kumar added that efforts were focused on rescuing 30-35 labourers trapped in a 250-metre tunnel at Tapovan.

The State Emergency Operation Centre reported the recovery of more bodies and feared the death toll would rise, a day after a portion of the Nanda Devi glacier possibly burst through its banks in Chamoli district.

It appeared to have triggered an avalanche and a deluge that ripped through the Alaknanda river system in the upper reaches of the ecologically fragile Himalayas.

Experts, however, are still trying to determine the exact cause of the disaster in Joshimath.

Not just rescue agencies but the state and central government is also working on providing relief and support to those injured and the kin of those who died in the calamity. PM Narendra Modi chaired a high-level meet with Uttarakhand MPs while Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath also held a meeting with officials as a number of people stuck in the disaster are from UP.

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