Uttarakhand DGP Ashok Kumar on Monday said he is expecting that the rescue operation in disaster-hit Chamoli may wind up in the next 3-4 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,” said Kumar.
Meanwhile, rescuers found five more bodies including three from inside a tunnel of the disaster-hit Tapovan project in Chamoli district in Uttarakhand since Sunday night taking the total number of bodies recovered so far to 55.
During the excavation work inside the tunnel, nine bodies have been found so far, officials said. Elsewhere, seven bodies were recovered from Reni area where the Rishiganga project was destroyed in the floods. With the recovery of five more bodies since Sunday night, the total has gone up to 55. Nearly 200 people went missing after the Feb 7 morning deluge.
This is the first time since the Feb 7 floods that the rescuers have been able to find bodies inside the tunnel. “We are expecting more bodies as hopes for survival are receding,” admitted a top official. There is still no contact with the remaining people trapped inside.
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 drilling process inside the tunnel, said 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 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 started recovering from the debris inside the tunnel, the rescuers are slowly digging the tunnel so that bodies should not get hammered.