Chamoli: Three more bodies were recovered on Monday from the flood-ravaged Tapovan tunnel, taking the toll in the glacial disaster in Uttarakhand to 53.
Rescue efforts are now underway at the Silt Flushing Tunnel (SFT) only with the help of excavators as a camera or a pipe cannot be inserted due to mounds of sludge and water choking it, the district magistrate said.
The SFT at Tapovan where drilling was completed on Saturday night in the hope of inserting a camera to locate those believed to be trapped inside is also badly choked with slush and water, she said.
Rescue or recovery is possible only with the help of excavators now, she said.
Officials said over 150 people still remain missing after the February 7 devastation, possibly triggered by an avalanche in the upper reaches of the Alaknanda river system. A surge of water in Dhauliganga and Rishiganga rivers had ripped through two hydel projects.
Asked about the chances of survival of those missing or trapped, the district magistrate said, ”We must always try to be hopeful when the circumstances are adverse.” Around 30 people, who were at work inside the tunnel when the flashflood occurred, are believed to be trapped inside the SFT at Tapovan.