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Update: Economic affairs minister, Norbu Wangchuk said an investigation would be launched into the landslide in Mangdechu hydropower project (MHP), which buried five workers on August 14.

Buried bodies yet to be retrieved

Update: Economic affairs minister, Norbu Wangchuk said an investigation would be launched into the landslide in Mangdechu hydropower project (MHP), which buried five workers on August 14.

Conveying condolences to the families of the trapped workers on behalf of the country and the prime minister, Lyonpo said that the Mangdechu project authority is distraught with the mishap at its dam site, which claimed five lives of Jaypee employees.

“No amount of explanations and justifications would justify loss of even a single life,” Norbu Wangchuk said.

The minister also said that he would like to let the people know that MHPA has some of the best professionals such as hydrologists, geologists, project managers and engineers who are putting in efforts to ensure safety at work place and to save lives.

Lyonpo said that the prime minister has instructed to commission an investigation into the incident. “I have conveyed the instructions to the project that an investigation will be launched so that important lessons are learnt,” he said.

On what actions would be taken if investigations uncover negligence on part of the project, the minister said he wouldn’t presume anything now.

“Thorough investigation would be done because lives have been lost so we would like to have important lessons learnt from the incident,” he said adding that he would wait for the report first to see what further actions needs to be taken.

The investigation comes in the wake of a landslide, which buried five expatriate workers and injured eight others who were working in the dam pit.

Despite recovery operations being initiated immediately after the slide, the bodies of the trapped workers are yet to be unearthed. Recovery works were impeded by continuous slides but the distressed area has now been stabilised.

The project since has been trying to uncover the bodies of the trapped employees, who were aged 21-60. Around 30-60 workers are involved in retrieval works with an exposed slide overhead.

Two excavators and some trucks have been helping in getting another pipeline to drain the water besides moving earth from the dam pit.

The families of the five employees in India have also been informed about the mishap. Relatives of some who were working in Punatshangchu and in other project component of Mangdechu project are also at the accident site since evening of August 14.

As of yesterday the project has dug out over 30 truckloads of debris from the dam pit where the bodies are trapped. But seepage accumulation of around 7,000-9,000 cubic meter of water into the dam pit is hindering the retrieval works.

There, however has been steady progress after the water pump was successfully installed to drain out the water. By yesterday evening the water level had receded by almost a meter.

The project expects the water level to recede completely by today morning with pumping of water through the nigh and expects to retrieve the bodies today.

If it hadn’t rained last night, the project was hopeful of retrieving at least some bodies.

Tempa Wangdi, Trongsa

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