Uttarakhand avalanche: 10 bodies found, 19 still missing

THE DEATH toll in the avalanche in Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand climbed to 10 on Wednesday, as six more bodies were sighted but are yet to be recovered. Four bodies were recovered on Tuesday.

A 41-member team from the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering (NIM) was trapped in the avalanche at Draupadi ka Danda-2 (DKD-2) peak on Tuesday morning. While 12 have been rescued, 19 are still missing.

“As of now, we have 25 people missing, of which six bodies have been located but are yet to be recovered. Four bodies have been recovered. Once we recover the six bodies, we will still have 19 people missing. The relief and rescue operation is over for the day, and it will resume on Thursday morning,” said State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) Inspector General Ridhim Aggarwal.

The multi-agency rescue teams have rescued 26 people so far – 12 who were part of the NIM team, and another 14 who were at the base camp. The NIM team included 34 trainees and seven instructors. The NIM said the avalanche struck at around 8.45 am on Tuesday, when the team was returning after scaling the peak as part of the advanced mountaineering course.

According to a PTI report, the missing are said to be stuck in the crevasse in Dokriani Bamak glacier where the avalanche struck. The trainees hail from West Bengal, Delhi, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Assam, Haryana, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh.

The bodies recovered include that of mountaineer Savita Kanswal who had climbed Mount Everest in May this year, said PTI.

“In order to reduce the time taken by teams to reach the site, we have set up a base camp at a height of 15,000 feet, about 1,000 feet below the site of the incident. A temporary helipad has also been set up closer to the site of the incident. A team from the High Altitude Warfare School in Jammu and Kashmir is also arriving to help us,” said Aggarwal.

Earlier in the day, Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami did an aerial survey of the rescue and relief operation. The Uttarakhand government has announced ex-gratia relief to all the affected families: Rs 2 lakh each for the families of those killed, Rs 1 lakh each for those with serious injuries, and Rs 50,000 for the others injured. “The chief minister has cancelled all Dussehra engagements and travelled to NIM control room in Uttarkashi to be updated by officials on the progress of rescue efforts,” said a statement issued by the state government.

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