Friday, August 24, 2007

Teesta Rescue team fails to make progress

Sevoke, Aug. 23: Daylong search operations along the Teesta today proved futile as none of the missing jawans could be traced.
A Sevoke-bound army truck carrying jawans skidded off NH 31 and fell into the Teesta between Sevoke Coronation Bridge and Mongpong, about 30 km from Siliguri, yesterday morning.
Five bodies were recovered from the river during the rescue operations yesterday. Six injured jawans had also been rescued. Police sources had said there were 18 people in the truck, but army officials today put the figure at 16.
All the army personnel in the truck were from the Sixth Maratha Regiment. The four bodies recovered late in the evening yesterday were identified as those of Sanjoy Nel, Amol Solanki, Baba Saheb Lalwa and Buket Pawar, all constables in the regiment, said Uday Tamang, the officer-in-charge of the Rambhi police outpost.
“We found the bodies about three to four kilometres downstream from the accident site,” said an army official monitoring the search operations.
This morning, an eight-member team of army divers from Jorhat in Assam started the search operations with members of the Teesta Bazaar-based Action Adventure and Rescue Group. Two rafts and a speedboat were pressed into service.
“We tried to retrieve the truck that had drowned, but it would not budge,” said Sukhbir Tamang, a member of the rescue team. “None of the missing men could be traced.”
The missing army personnel have been identified as S. Desai, Mithun, Deepak Nikam, Shailshankar and Ram Bahadur Thapa.
Residents and daily commuters of Bagrakote, Sevoke and Malbazar blamed the bad condition of the roads for the accident.
NHAI officials admitted the failings and said Rs 5.44 crore has been sanctioned for repairs.