It’s a race against time as rescue workers look for over 200 people still missing after serious flooding in the Indian state of Uttarakhand crashed on Sunday morning. The water swept away hydroelectric power projects and five bridges.
The death toll following the flooding that struck Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district on Sunday has risen to 31, with over 200 still missing. Rescuers worked through the night to clear debris in an attempt to reach a 1,900 metre-long tunnel where nearly 35 people are believed to be trapped. There has been no contact with those inside.
“We have reached up to 120 metres inside the tunnel. We are short by another 60 metre to reach the link where we are anticipating the presence of people,” Indo-Tibetan Border Police officer Manoj Singh Rawat said.
Indian Home Minister Amit Shah told the Indian Parliament on Tuesday afternoon that as many as 450 soldiers from the Indo-Tibetan Border Police, five teams of National Disaster Response Force, eight teams of Indian Army, a Navy team, and five Indian Air Force helicopters have been deployed.
Amit Shah: BRO is repairing five broken bridges. All necessary steps are being taken.
Chairman Rajya Sabha, M Venkaiah Naidu asks all members to stand in silence in memory of those missing in the disaster. pic.twitter.com/hnRt7QOHzk
— vijaita singh (@vijaita) February 9, 2021
So far 12 people have been rescued from another tunnel in the area where labourers were working on a hydroelectric project. They have been taken to hospital. They said a deluge of water, debris, and slush burst into the tunnel as they were forced to hang onto metal bars on the tunnel’s ceiling to survive.
CM @tsrawatbjp being briefed by @ITBP_official about the relief and supply operation with the help of civil administration to cut off villages at Lata Helipad and control base. Sh M S Rawat, ADG Western Command ITBP also seen.@ndmaindia @PIB_Indiapic.twitter.com/KUljfATwJQ
— PIB in Uttarakhand (@PIBDehradun) February 9, 2021
Trivendra Singh Rawat, state chief of Uttarakhand, has urged the Modi government to deploy more scientists and geologists to find the exact cause of the incident.
Electro magnetic depth radar underslug helicopter flies over area of devastation at Tapovan, Chamoli Uttarakhand. Aim is to gauge extent & depth of damage & also vacuum pockets if any. @tsrawatbjp urged centre for deployment of team of scientists & geologists. #IndiaFirst pic.twitter.com/IqsPwHRr62
— GAURAV C SAWANT (@gauravcsawant) February 9, 2021
A bridge in the Tapovan area that connected 13 villages has also been washed away. Food, essential goods, and medicine has been air dropped by the Indian Air Force in the cutoff villages.
Indian Air Force (IAF) Humaniatarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) Ops continue in #Uttarakhand. Mi-17 with NDRF personnel and equipment being offloaded at Joshimath. pic.twitter.com/Z0AO0whEkv
— Aditya Raj Kaul (@AdityaRajKaul) February 9, 2021
The Uttarakhand government says the water is receding and there’s now no danger of flooding in the lower areas.
#NewsAlert | ITBP DG gives a comprehensive briefing to the Home Ministry on the extent of damage to the strategic assets due to the flash floods & the glacial burst in Uttarakhand.
Nikunj Garg with details. pic.twitter.com/jHyHySMLbg
— TIMES NOW (@TimesNow) February 9, 2021
The total damage caused due to the destruction of two power projects in Tapovan is estimated at about $20 million.