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Sunday, June 13, 2021

‘Tiny crack inside tunnel gave us hope’: Uttarakhand glacier burst survivors recount horror

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Sunil Dwivedi of Dhak village in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district was among the 16 workers rescued by Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) on Sunday evening after the tunnel they were working in at Tapovan was inundated by floodwaters.

“We were on duty inside the tunnel when people started screaming, asking us to return out. We were surprised, thinking of what could have happened. All of a sudden, water rushed inside the tunnel effective and trapped us; we couldn’t begin . We were 300 metres inside the tunnel. We started clinging on to iron rods hanging from the ceiling in order that our faces were above the water. We stayed like that for an hour,” a visibly shaken Sunil says, sitting on his single bed .

A portion of Nanda Devi glacier broke off on February 7 morning, triggering an avalanche and flooding that washed away hydroelectric stations and houses , leaving a minimum of 10 people dead and 125 missing till last reports came in. Two NTPC hydel power projects, Tapovan-Vishnugad and Rishi Ganga, were extensively damaged and many labourers trapped in tunnels because the waters came gushing in.

“At one point, we thought we were never getting to see our families again. But after a while , the water started receding, and that we gradually climbed down. We stepped on bigger stones and moved forward. At now , it had been getting difficult to breathe, on the other hand we saw alittle crack and gathered there for fresh air. Our survival instincts revived, and that we knew we had to measure .

Another worker had a phone, and thankfully, it had network. He called up our supervisor at NTPC. After a while , ITBP jawans came inside the tunnel and rescued us,” Sunil narrated.

The rescued workers were taken to an ITBP facility at Joshimath, the closest town, for treatment. Rescue operations will continue overnight, with the military chipping in with four columns and two medical teams; naval Special Forces are on standby. NDRF has said that the speed of relief operations is probably going to be suffering from low visibility and inclement weather .

But those who’ve been rescued thank their stars and therefore the ITBP. Basant, another worker from Nepal, says, “The ordeal lasted for a few seven hours. it had been around 10 within the morning that floodwaters came gushing inside the tunnel trapping us.

We didn’t know what to try to to or whether we’ll live. We hanged on somehow. Around 5 pm, ITBP personnel came inside the tunnel and rescued us. They took us to the hospital where we are being taken excellent care of.”

Suraj Kumar from Dhak village, Vinod Singh Tomar from Joshimath, Shirish Kumar from Mandi district in Himachal Pradesh, Srinivas Reddy from Srisailam in Andhra Pradesh and every one the opposite rescued workers have similar tales to inform . They hope that people trapped in nature’s fury also are rescued

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