Rescue work at Raini village, after a glacier burst on February 7 in Joshimath triggered a flash flood, in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand on Saturday. – PTI

Uttarakhand disaster

JOSHIMATH (U’khand), Feb 13: Rescue teams on Saturday began widening a hole drilled into an approach tunnel on the way to the possible location of over 30 people trapped inside a sludge-choked tunnel of the NTPC’s Tapovan-Vishnugad hydel project after a flash flood ravaged the area on Sunday.

“We are working under a three-pronged strategy to reach to those trapped in the tunnel. The hole we drilled yesterday is being widened to one feet so as to reach a camera and a pipe inside the silt flushing tunnel where the trapped are said to be located,” General Manager of the NTPC project RP Ahirwal, said.

A hole with a diameter of one feet will help send in a camera to ascertain their location and a pipe to flush out accumulated water from the tunnel, Ahirwal said.

The other two parts of the strategy are clearing the desilting basin of the NTPC barrage through which muck is constantly flowing into the tunnels and restoring the flow of the Dhauliganga to the right which has tilted to the left after the flash flood hampering the sludge clearing operation, he said.

Describing the rescue of people as a priority, he said the NTPC has put more than 100 of its scientists on the job.

When asked whether an attempt could also be made to send rescue personnel to the possible location of those trapped inside the tunnel through the hole, the GM said it will need to be widened further for that and will be done if the need arises. “More than 100 of our scientists are on the job. They are devising strategies and having them implemented,” Ahirwal said.

He said all resources and mechanical equipment required for the operations are available at the project site.

However, citing the conditions inside the tunnel, he said, “We can operate only with a few machines at a time. Rest of them have to be kept on standby because our strategy is to keep the operations under way round the clock.”

The sludge choked contours and conduits of the barrage’s desilting basin can also be removed more effectively only if the flow is restored back to its earlier position. – PTI

64 people from UP still missing

LUCKNOW, Feb 13: A total of 64 persons from Uttar Pradesh are still missing, while five from the State have died after the flash floods caused by possible glacier burst in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district, officials said on Saturday.

In a statement issued here, Relief Commissioner of Uttar Pradesh Sanjay Goyal said, “As of February 13, five persons from the State have died in the glacier burst at Joshimath in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district, while 64 persons are still missing. A total of 23 persons from the state have been found alive.”

Of the 64 missing persons, 30 are from Lakhimpur Kheri, followed by 10 from Saharanpur, five from Shravasti, four from Gorakhpur, two each from Raebareli and Kushinagar and one each from Sonbhadra, Mirzapur, Shahjahanpur, Moradabad, Mathura, Gautam Buddh Nagar, Deoria, Chandauli, Bulandshahr, Azamgarh and Amroha, the statement said. – PTI