Households indignant as hope fades for employees in India glacier tragedy | India Information
The family of 39 workers trapped in a tunnel is growing in desperation after a Himalayan glacier burst on Sunday, causing a deadly flash flood.
Joshimath, Uttarakhand – Anger mounts in the families of 39 workers trapped in a tunnel after a deadly flash flood caused by the bursting of a Himalayan glacier destroyed two hydropower projects on Sunday.
Four days after tons of rocks and slush blocked the tunnel under construction at Tapovan Dam in Uttarakhand state, desperate families rushed to the village on Wednesday, expressing anger at the rescue operation’s management.
Swati Bhadouriya, the district judge of Chamoli, some 278 km east of the capital Dehradun, told Al Jazeera that a body was found Wednesday morning, bringing the death toll in the tragedy to 32 while over 170 people are missing.
Members of the Indian National Disaster Response Force near the Tapovan Tunnel [Bilal Kuchay/Al Jazeera]The families of the missing claim that not enough is being done by the authorities and time is running out for their loved ones trapped in the 2 km tunnel. Officials said they could not have exceeded 120 meters.
However, the workers’ families said the rescue team, which includes hundreds of paramilitary personnel and members of the National Disaster Response Force, took “too much time” to clear the rubble and made “conflicting media reports” about the rescue mission .
“If someone in the administration literally believes the workers in the tunnel are alive, this operation shouldn’t take that long,” said 30-year-old Abdul Wajid from Saharanpur district in neighboring Uttar Pradesh.
Wajid’s younger brother Sadiq – a father of three – and four others from the district had started working in the Tapovan Tunnel last week.
They should finish their jobs by Sunday evening and return to their hometown on Monday, Wajid said, adding that fate had something else in store for them.
Babu Ram’s brother Pramod Sen was also working in the tunnel on Sunday.
“Four days have passed since the tunnel was blocked by the mud and the rescue teams still couldn’t find the people trapped in it,” he told Al Jazeera.
“We have now lost all hope. We don’t believe our loved ones are still alive. We just want the administration to safely return the bodies of our loved ones. “
Piyoosh Rautela, a senior disaster relief worker, told Al Jazeera that they are working around the clock to find the workers and that the rescue operation took a long time because they couldn’t send in too many machines.
“It was a tunnel and people worked inside. Debris came and clogged the tunnel. We don’t know how far the rubble has gone, ”he said.
Rautela said he understands the agony of families, but they are “unaware of the practical reality that people in the Himalayas are facing”.
“These are fast flowing currents. A person washed away in the process may or may not be tracked down, ”he said.
“Three days is not a long time, people survive long periods of time trapped in different places. There have been cases. We hope we will find them. “