In a major achievement, rescue teams have recovered all 20 bodies from the landslide-hit site at Summer Hill. The search and rescue teams, comprising the Army, National Disaster Response Force, State Disaster Response Force, Home Guards, and local volunteers dug out the last three bodies today afternoon, the eleventh day of the long and challenging operation. The bodies dug out today were of Pawan Sharma, his granddaughter, and Neeraj Thakur.
The landslide had demolished the temple on August 14, leaving 20 people buried under the massive mounds of rubble spread over at least 2km.
“Normally, the recovery rate of the bodies in such operations is around 70 per cent. We are glad that we have been able to recover all the bodies.
Getting the bodies for last rites will offer some consolation to the bereaved families,” said an official who was part of the rescue operation from the very first day.
For 11 days, the rescue teams would show up at the site at 6 am and leave around 9pm after moving tons of earth, big deodar trees and rocks while looking for the survivors or bodies.
As the sludge had gone down around 2km from the temple, the teams had to scan a very large area for the missing persons, making the task even more arduous.
“It was a tough operation as too much muck had filled up the nullah. Big machineries couldn’t enter the nullah, so much of the work had to be carried out manually.
Also, we could not use the victim locating cameras and life detectors because of the mud,” said Inspector Nafees Khan, the NDFR officer. “Having said that, it’s our job to work in challenging conditions,” said Khan.
Meanwhile, the SDRF also chipped in with their best to locate the missing bodies, even though they are not as well equipped as their NDRF counterparts.
“We do not have as good personal gear like gloves, rain coats as the NDRF. However, it’s all right as we are a comparatively new organisation.
We are sure that we will also have quality equipment in times to come,” said an SDRF jawan. The local volunteers too deserve a pat on the back as they, too, soldiered on for eleven days with the rescue teams.
The families and relatives of the deceased are also grateful to the rescue teams for digging out all the bodies. “We are grateful to the rescue teams and local volunteers for digging out all the bodies.
It was tough to keep the operation going for 11 days and dig out all the bodies,” said Mohit Sharma, a relative of the deceased Pawan Sharma.