Nepal | August 03, 2020

Melamchi tunnel bursts, two swept away

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An engineer and a driver working for Melamchi Drinking Water Project have gone missing after the gate of the audit tunnel at Aambathan gave in to the pressure of water inside the tunnel this afternoon, sweeping away the duo along with the vehicle.

Engineer Satish Goit of Dhanusha district representing the contracting company Sinohydro and driver Radha Krishna Thapa of Godavari in Lalitpur employed by MDWP have gone missing. Two other — Engineer Shekhar Khanal of the project and consultant Pemba Lama, a resident of Melamchi — were also in the vehicle when water gushed out of the tunnel. They were rescued by locals.

“Those who survived were swept away towards another tunnel where water pressure was relatively less,’’ said Nima Gyalzen Sherpa, mayor of Melamchi Rural Municipality, quoting the survivors. Sherpa said the water that gushed out of the audit tunnel was no less than a devastating flood.

The vehicle that was swept away was found ‘badly smashed’ down the stream outside the audit tunnel. “We have not been able to find the missing duo. We suspect they were swept away down to the Melamchi River,” added Sherpa.

Rajendra Prasad Pant, information officer of the project, said the unfortunate incident occurred due to a ‘technical error’. Panta said staffers had gone inside the tunnel to repair the flossing gate. “Investigation into the cause of the accident is on. Our first priority is to find those missing and treat those rescued,” he said.

In mid-March, MDWP, in the presence of Drinking Water Minister Bina Magar, had conducted a water inflow test along a limited route of the tunnel from the Melamchi River to the Aambathan tunnel. Magar had vowed to speed up the project with the aim of completing it by the end of the current fiscal year, which ends in a couple of days.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on July 15, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.


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