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U’khand Tragedy: 58 Bodies Found, Rescue Ops Likely to End Soon

Rescuers have found two more bodies inside a tunnel of the disaster-hit Tapovan project in Chamoli district.

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With rescue operations expected to wind up in the next few days, rescuers on Tuesday, 16 February, found two more bodies inside a tunnel of the disaster-hit Tapovan project in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district, taking the total number of bodies recovered so far to 58, according to IANS.

Uttarakhand Director General Police (DGP) Ashok Kumar on Monday said that he was expecting that the rescue operation in Chamoli to end in the next three to four days.

“I think the rescue operation may wind up in 3-4 days. By that time, we may be able to cover everything. But if the need be, the rescue operation may continue for more days, may be for another one month.” 
Ashok Kumar, Director General Police, Uttarakhand

According to news agency ANI, Kumar said that water from the Bansagar canal is being released into the Sihawal canal to lower its water level for the rescue operation.

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Heavy Sludge Slows Rescue Ops

Meanwhile, two more bodies were found inside the tunnel where the rescue operation was going at a slow pace due to the presence of heavy sludge and as a precautionary measure. The rescuers were digging slowly into the tunnel so that bodies do not get hammered.

According to IANS, during the excavation work inside the tunnel, 11 bodies have been found so far, officials said. "We are expecting more bodies as we are not hoping for survivors now," admitted a top official. There is still no contact with the remaining trapped people inside.

The rescuers are working at 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 Yashwant Chauhan, Superintendent of Police (SP) Chamoli.

After days of digging and excavation works, jawans of Army, ITBP, NDRF and SDRF, who are engaged in the rescue works, had managed to open a sizeable portion of the tunnel. Mucking out inside the tunnel has reached 155 metres, said an NTPC statement.

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NTPC Compensation Fast-tracked

Meanwhile, NTPC on Monday said it has fast-tracked all modalities and procedures for distribution of compensation to the immediate families of those who lost their lives in the natural disaster that struck Tapovan project on February 7, even as rescue operation continued in full swing with high-end machinery.

While NTPC is extending a compensation of Rs 20 lakh to the immediate family of the contract labourers of the agency engaged in the construction of the project, the Uttarakhand and central governments have separately announced compensation packages of Rs 4 lakh and Rs 2 lakh, respectively.

Further, compensation against PF and Employees' Compensation Act covered under statutory provisions of the workers in the range of Rs 5 lakh to Rs 15 lakh will also be made available.

A dedicated task force from NTPC has been working out the modalities, including collating necessary information with regard to every missing worker and liaisoning with district administration in order to fast-track compensation distribution.

(With inputs from IANS and ANI.)

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