Uttarakhand flash flood: Government to collect DNA samples for identification; 32 bodies recovered, 174 still missing

New Delhi: In the aftermath of the devastating floods that wreaked havoc in Chamoli district in Uttarakhand on Sunday, the state government has said that its officials will be collecting DNA samples of the unattended recovered bodies.

“Till 7:30 PM on Tuesday, 32 bodies have been recovered, while 174 are yet to be traced. The DNA samples will be kept safe and on the basis of that, the bodies will be identified,” the state government said in a statement.

About 600 rescue workers are involved in the operation, two days after the sudden flood in the Alaknanda river system in Chamoli district that was possibly triggered by an avalanche or glacier burst.

In Parliament, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said the Centre is working in close coordination with the Uttarakhand government. “Rescue operation to evacuate these people is going on a war-footing and all-out efforts are being made for searching missing persons,’’ he said. 

Of the 32 bodies, 25 have been identified, while 7 remain unattended. The rescue operation is underway to trace 174 more people, the state government said.

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat said, “Multi-agency operation is on at multiple sites of the state to trace the missing persons. From the Kedarnath disaster of 2013, the experience that we have gathered is that the DNA samples of the bodies` have to be kept safe for their identification in the future.”

The Uttarakhand government said that at the Tapovan Vishnugad hydroelectric project, rescuers have dug in and moved about 100 metres into a blocked tunnel in an effort to reach the persons feared trapped inside.

During the relief and rescue operations, 12 NTPC employees were rescued safely, while six others who sustained injuries have also been saved by the rescuers. Meanwhile, the state government has reported that there is no danger of downstream flooding and the rise in water level has been contained, adding that the Centre and the state government are keeping a strict vigil on the situation.

The Chief Minister reviewed the relief and rescue operations in the disaster-hit Lata village on Tuesday. He also inquired about the joint operation by other agencies, including the NDRF and the ITBP in the Tapovan tunnel.

One column of the Engineering Task Force (ETF) of the Army along with rescue equipment has also been deployed in the area. The Army men along with ETF personnel opened the tunnel mouth at Tapovan. Besides, a team of scientists flown to Dehradun on Sunday night also visited the spot.

A state control room at Haridwar has been set up to coordinate with Uttarakhand government about the rescue and relief operations. The missing people include those working at NTPC’s 480 MW Tapovan-Vishnugad project and the 13.2 MW Rishiganga Hydel Project and villagers whose homes nearby were washed away.

Some family members of the missing workers are camping at Tapovan, waiting for some news about them. About 70 missing workers are from Uttar Pradesh, an official said in Lucknow. Among them, 34 are from Lakhimpur Kheri district alone.

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(With Agency Inputs)

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