Two more bodies recovered from Tapovan tunnel, disaster toll rises to 58

Tapovan tunnel rescue activities
Members of a rescue team work inside a tunnel after a part of a glacier broke away in Tapovan, Uttarakhand, February 11, 2021. Photo: REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis

Tapovan/Dehradun: Two more bodies were recovered early Tuesday from the Tapovan tunnel where efforts were underway on the 10th consecutive day to reach workers feared trapped inside after a flash flood in Uttarakhand's Chamoli district.

The confirmed death toll in the Chamoli disaster has now mounted to 58 and another 148 people are missing, an official said.

Eleven of the bodies were recovered from the tunnel at the National Thermal Power Corporation's Tapovan-Vishnugad project site, where about 30 people were initially feared trapped.

Meanwhile, Chamoli Chief Medical Officer G S Rana issued a video statement, saying all those killed in the glacial disaster suffered bodily injuries, and sludge and water entered their lungs.

"Post-mortem has been conducted on all the 58 bodies recovered so far by February 16 and I have seen the reports. All of them died of injuries sustained on their bodies and due to sludge and water entering their lungs," he said.

The multi-agency rescue effort in Chamoli district is focusing on the Tapovan tunnel.

National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) commandant P K Tiwari said the search-and-rescue operations will go on till the last victim is reached. But he also indicated that the clearing the sludge and the debris from the entire tunnel could take months.

Asked about the chances of survival of those missing or trapped, the NDRF commandant said he cannot say anything with certainty, but miracles do happen.

Rescue work at the site progressed slower Tuesday than on other days with water seeping out of the debris from the yet to be cleared portion of the tunnel.

The agencies involved in the Tapovan rescue work include the Indo-Tibetan Border Police, the National Disaster Response Force and the State Disaster Response Force.

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