The rescue operation in the aftermath of the flash floods on Sunday continued on the third day on Tuesday in the disaster-hit Chamoli district of Uttarakhand even as the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) recovered five more bodies from the Alaknanda river on Tuesday, taking the death toll to 31.
Surging waters on Sunday washed away homes, damaged two major dams, cut off 13 villages, and snapped crucial road links and bridges that connect far-flung areas in the Himalayan region. The worst disaster to hit the region in eight years struck when a glacier breach under the Nanda Devi, the country's second-highest peak, sent a torrent of water, rock, and dust down a valley into the Rishiganga river, where workers were building a dam.
Officials said earlier on Monday night, 26 bodies were recovered. Out of 206 missing persons, mostly workers from two dam projects sites, about 175 remain untraceable.
Praveen Alok, an SDRF spokesman, said, "Till Tuesday noon, 31 bodies were recovered including five from the river on Tuesday morning. The SDRF teams are continuously scanning the river and riverside to search bodies."
He said the major rescue work is still on in the 1.7km long tunnel at the NTPC project site, where 35 workers are feared trapped in the muck.
The state police have released a list of 185 missing people, who have been identified. They include 173 workers from the dam sites, mostly from Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, 12 villagers, and two policemen.
On Tuesday, chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat visited the 13 villages and also met the injured in the army hospital in Joshimath near the disaster site.
The government is providing ration packets and other relief material to 2,500 people of these villages by air.