8 Rohtang tunnel workers feared dead in cloudburst
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At least eight people, all working on the high altitude Rohtang tunnel project, are feared to have been killed and over 24 injured in flash flood due to a massive cloudburst at Dhundi in the Kullu valley on Thursday morning.
There were around 133 people working at the site when the cloudburst happened at 12:05 am. The flash flood also washed away labourers' huts and the office of the private contractor.
"Nine people were reported missing, one of whom later returned. A large number of people saved their lives by running away from the project site," Kullu Deputy Commissioner B M Nanta said.
Two bodies were recovered from the Beas and were identified as Raj Kumar, 20 of Chamba district, and Tikeshwar Kumar, 38 of Mandi district.
The state police along with Indo-Tibetan Border Police and SSB have undertaken a massive search and rescue operation. But heavy rains that has raised the Beas water level was hindering operations.
However, officials said there was no damage to the tunnel and work was going on smoothly.
"Since the north portal site of the tunnel was far away from the catchment of cloudburst and flash flood, there are no reports about any damage there," an official of the Border Roads Organisation said here.
The snow gallery structure also escaped major damages.
"There is no damage to the structure but it has been buried by heavy boulders and debris, which came from the mountains in the flash flood. Some machinery of the contractor has been damaged," Rohtang tunnel project manager P K Mahajan said.
The 8.8-km Rohtang tunnel will connect the scenic Kullu valley to the tribal Lahaul valley by an all-weather road and reduce the distance considerably between Kullu and Keylong.
The police have registered a case of negligence against the private contractor. "We have registered a case against the contractor as he did not take safeguards. All the workers' huts were in deep nullah prone to floods and landslides," Kullu Superintendent of Police Abhishek Dular said.
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