Chamoli glacier burst: Two bodies recovered, 300 rescued so far

The rescue work was going on till late on Friday night “to locate the remainder persons still stuck under snow or stranded at work sites since late evening”.

The rescue work will begin again on early Saturday, as bad weather conditions restricted the operations. Sources mentioned that the operations continued to find people in batches.

Army said in a statement on Saturday morning that at around 4 pm on April 23 “an avalanche hit a location about 4 km ahead of Sumna on Sumna – Rimkhim road in Uttarakhand,” which is one the “Joshimath – Malari- Girthidobla – Sumna- Rimkhim axis”.

“A BRO detachment and two labour camps exist nearby for road construction work along this axis. An Army camp is located 3 Km from Sumna (approximately 1 Km short of  BRO Sumna Det).”

It said that the area had “experienced heavy rains and snow since last 5 days and still continuing”.

“Rescue operations were launched by the Indian Army immediately. 291 labourers have been safely rescued and are now at the Army camp. Rescue operations to locate other labourers at both the camps are continuing. Two bodies have been recovered so far.”

Army added that the road access is cut off at four to five location due to multiple landslides, and Border Roads Task Force teams from Joshimath “are working to clear slides enroute from Bhapkund to Sumna since last evening” and it is “expected to take another 6 to 8 hours to clear this complete axis”.

An official mentioned that a BRO Camp “came under avalanche conditions during heavy snowfall in Sumna area of Joshimath Sector in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand” on Friday. As the rescue operations began around 55 persons “could be mustered at first count, blizzard conditions kept rescue operations at bay till late evening”.

The official mentioned that in a night rescue operation “undertaken by the Army, another 150 GREF persons stuck in the BRO Camp have been rescued and brought to safety”. General Reserve Engineer Force works under BRO.

The rescue work was going on till late on Friday night “to locate the remainder persons still stuck under snow or stranded at work sites since late evening”.

The official mentioned that people were found and rescued in batches, after the initial 55 and then 149, four more batches of 37, 22, 9 and 19 were saved and brought to safety, taking the total count to 291 during the night.

However, as the weather made it difficult for the rescue work to be carried on, the operation had to be halted and the Army hopes to resume the work early on Saturday morning. The official said that the weather had “turned pretty hostile” during the night, and already more than the estimated number of people, which was around 280, had been rescued. However, to “mop up the are” for any others, the Army personnel were to “start fresh at first light”.

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat had tweeted about the incident on Friday evening. There were reports of a glacier breaking off in Sumna, Neeti Valley. “I have released an alert in this regard. I am in constant touch with the district administration and BRO.

“The district administration has been instructed to get complete information about the case. For NTPC and other projects, orders have been given to stop work at night so that no untoward incident occurs.” He said in a second tweet.

Rawat had also stated that Union Home Minister Amit Shah was informed about the incident, who took note of it, and “assured full help to Uttarakhand and has instructed the ITBP to be vigilant”.

The incident comes two months after flash floods in Chamoli district in February left dozens dead.

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