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Chamoli disaster: More bodies recovered, toll reaches 56

With three bodies being recovered from the Tapovan-Vishnugad power project tunnel and two bodies from other locations, the death toll in the Chamoli disaster which occurred on February 7 has now reached 56. Apart from the three bodies found in the tunnel, one was found at the Srinagar dam while another was found at Maithana in Chamoli district itself. According to the DIG (Law and Order) and Uttarakhand police chief spokesman Nilesh Anand Bharne, with the recovery of 56 bodies so far, a total of 148 persons are still missing. Of the bodies recovered so far, 29 have been identified while 27 are yet to be identified. A total of 52 first information reports (FIRs) have been lodged regarding the missing persons in the Joshimath Kotwali. He further informed that 22 human body parts have also been recovered from different sites in Chamoli district. In accordance with guidelines for DNA sampling and preservation, the recovered bodies and body parts have been kept for identification at the community health centres of Joshimath, Karnprayag and the district hospital in Gopeshwar. The authorities have so far taken the DNA samples of 56 family members of the missing persons in order to help in the identification process. Meanwhile, the committee formed for proper disposal of the bodies has so far conducted the last rites of 53 bodies and 20 body parts with necessary religious rituals, informed Bharne.

According to information provided by the State Emergency Operations Centre (SEOC) of the 25 to 35 persons who were trapped in the Tapovan-Vishnugad power project tunnel, the bodies of nine persons have been recovered so far. About 140 metres of the tunnel has been cleared of debris. However, efforts to clear the tunnel of debris are being hindered by backflow being caused due to the debris being in sludge form. Meanwhile, efforts are underway to restore the power and water supply in the disaster affected villages. Electricity supply has been restored in 11 of the 13 affected villages while water supply has been restored to 12 out of 13 affected villages.

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