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U’khand glacier burst leaves 7 dead, at least 125 missing

ITBP rescue
A worker being rescued from tunnel by the ITBP team. (Photo: ITBP)

Dehradun, February 7: Rescuers have pulled out seven bodies from a tunnel while at least 125 people were missing after a glacier burst in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand triggered a massive avalanche and floods in the Alaknanda river system on Sunday.

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat said the numbers could be higher and announced a compensation of Rs 4 lakh to the next of kin of those killed in the “massive disaster”.
Two power projects NTPC’s Tapovan-Vishnugad hydel project and the Rishi Ganga Hydel Project were extensively damaged with scores of labourers trapped in tunnels as the waters and sludge came rushing in.
Seven bodies have been recovered from one of the tunnels in Tapovan and a search for the rest of the missing people is underway by ITBP and SDRF personnel, Rawat said here on his return from a visit to the affected areas.
Rawat said at least 125 people including two policemen were missing and the numbers could be higher as authorities of the damaged hydel projects are not in a position to give a precise figure.
All efforts are focussed at the moment to pull out those feared trapped inside the other tunnels that are clogged with 35-40 feet of debris, Rawat said.
The Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) and the National Disaster Response Force personnel have penetrated up to 150 metres into the 250-metre-long tunnel but they have not been able to contact any of the trapped employees or workmen, he said.
The extent of damage to the two hydel projects is being assessed by their management, he said.
One motorable road and four suspension bridges connecting 7-8 villages in the area with the district headquarters have also been washed away by the avalanche.
The disconnected villages include Gahar, Bhangyun, Raini Palli, Pang Lata, Suraithota, Tolma and Fagrasu.
Arrangements have been made to continue uninterrupted supplies of essentials to these villages, Rawat said.
Chamoli District Magistrate Swati S Bhadoriya and Superintendent of Police P Yashwant Singh Chauhan are camping at the site, the chief minister said.

There are 17 gram sabha areas affected by the avalanche, out of which 11 are inhabited while the residents of the rest had moved to lower areas during the winter, Rawat said.
All arrangements are in place to deal with any eventuality including IAF and private helicopters which are on stand-by (PTI)