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40 labourers trapped in tunnel
August 08, 2004 17:06 IST
Last Updated: August 08, 2004 19:33 IST
About 40 labourers were on Sunday feared trapped in a tunnel at the Parvati hydel power project site as flash floods caused by cloudburst triggered landslides and washed away heavy machinery worth crores of rupees in Manikarna area of this district, 60 kms from Kullu.
The labourers of Patel Engineering Company, enaged by NHPC for the project, were working inside the tunnel when landslides blocked its exit following cloudburst around 12 am.
The fate of the labourers trapped in the one-and-a-half km long tunnel was not known.
Official sources said 20 labourers were trapped, two of them locals and the rest from outside Himachal Pradesh, but company sources said around 35 to 40 people worked inside the tunnel during night shifts. State Power Minister Vidya Stokes, however, said 12 labourers were trapped.
Two machines were moved to the tunnel site in Barsaini gorge area after constructing a temporary approach road and the debris was expected to be cleared by evening, the sources said.
As the flash floods struck in the wee hours, about 500 people living in 250 huts in the labour colony at the project site immediately moved to safer places, they said.
The flow of water initially was not much but as the floods again hit around 1.30 am, 70 huts, the main approach road, two bridges and heavy machinery were washed away and vast low lying land inundated.
The sources said no casualties were reported.
Indo-Tibetan Border Police and Home Guard personnel were engaged in rescue operations and senior district officials were monitoring the situation on-the-spot.
Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Vir Bhadra Singh has directed the administration to carry relief and rescue operations on a war-footing. He was expected to visit the area tomorrow morning.