Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), which guards the Sino-Indian border, was the first to respond after flash floods hit Chamoli district of Uttarakhand Sunday. With a base at Joshimath, ITBP personnel are leading rescue operations at various locations. ITBP DG S S Deswal speaks to Deeptiman Tiwary on the situation and the challenges
What is the current situation?
The situation is under control as of now. People were trapped in two tunnels [in Tapovan area]. One of them has been cleared and 12 people trapped there have been rescued. Some of them have injuries and breathing issues. All have been given medical care and shifted to ITBP’s Joshimath hospital where they are stable.
The second tunnel is 2 km away. We have been told that 30-35 workers are trapped there. There is huge debris at the opening of the tunnel. All efforts are being made to remove the debris and rescue the people. Indian Army, ITBP and SDRF personnel are working together in this operation. There are six earth movers and JCBs belonging to Border Roads Organisation which have been pressed into action. But there is a massive amount of slush at the opening of the tunnel and removing it is taking time.
How hopeful are we of rescuing them? Do we have any confirmation if they are alive?
We are hopeful that they may be alive and we will be able to rescue them. It is a long and deep tunnel. So our guess is that there must be enough oxygen in there for the men to last the night. Also, these are tunnel workers, so…