53 bodies found so far at flood-ravaged Chamoli

Dehradun, Feb 15 (IANS) Rescuers have found three more bodies, including two from inside a tunnel of the disaster-hit Tapovan project in Chamoli district in Uttarakhand, taking the total number of bodies recovered so far to 53.
During the excavation work inside the tunnel, eight bodies have been found so far, officials said. Elsewhere, seven bodies were recovered from the Reni area where the Rishiganga project was destroyed in the flood. With the recovery of three more bodies since Sunday night, the total has gone up to 53. Nearly 200 people went missing after the February 7 morning deluge.
This is the first time since the February 7 flood that the rescuers have been able to find bodies inside the tunnel. “We are expecting more bodies as hopes are receding for survivals,” admitted a top official. There is still no contact with the remaining trapped people inside.
Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) Nilesh Anand Bharne, who is spokesman of the state police, claimed the rescue work had been speeded up with the installation of some additional machines like excavators.
The rescuers are working on two places — one inside the tunnel and other at the remains of the Rishiganga project in Reni. They have stopped the drilling process inside the tunnel, said Superintendent of Police (SP) Chamoli.
After days of digging and excavation works, jawans of the army, ITBP, NDRF and SDRF, who are engaged in the rescue works, had managed to open a sizeable portion of the tunnel. But the presence of heavy silt and sludge inside the tunnel slowed down the excavation and digging work, top government officials admitted. Rescuers also consulted NTPC officials to understand the complicated design of the tunnel.
As the bodies are being recovered from the debris inside the tunnel, the rescuers are slowly digging so that bodies do not get hammered.
As rescuers started recovering bodies from a tunnel of the disaster-hit Tapovan project in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand, all hopes of any survivors have been virtually dashed.
But for many people, there is still a ray of hope. They are relying on miracles and prayers thinking their loved ones might come back alive from the debris and sludge inside the packed tunnel.
“We will not leave hope till we see something. Miracles do happen,” said Hari Singh of Mirzapur in Uttar Pradesh, whose nephew Tripan Singh is missing. Singh, who is camping in Tapovan area, says he is holding prayers regularly.
Gloomy scenes were witnessed when family members started identifying the corpses. “With a very heavy heart, we ask the family members to identify these bodies,” said Yashwant Chauhan, Superintendent of Police (SP) Chamoli, who is closely monitoring the rescue operations.

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