Project authority says that such incidents will not occur again

Update: All five bodies of the expatriate workers of Mangdechu Hydropower Project Authority were retrieved and escorted to their homes across the border by yesterday evening, six days after a massive slide of debris buried them in the dam pit.

The first body of an electrician from West Bengal was spotted around 6am while the second body,  a pipe fitter, who was a brother to the deceased electrician was found with the third body of another pipe fitter from Jharkhand at 7:10 am.

The fourth body, also of an electrician from Assam was uncovered by 1pm while the last body to be unearthed was the foreman’s from Bihar at 3:15pm.

All bodies were retrieved in close proximity to the cavity in the dam pit, as some workers who escaped the slide had suggested.

While relatives and project officials had feared of finding the bodies intact, save for the foreman’s head and limb injuries, others had sustained minor head injuries. However, around 30-40 percent of the bodies had decomposed.

It was also found that most died from head and fatal internal injuries to vital organs.

Soon after the bodies were recovered, the project escorted them home, two by 1pm, the other two by 3pm and the last body by 4pm.

Ambulances from Jaypee, Gammon and a hired private ambulance will carry the bodies to their respective hometowns.

“An officer each from Jaypee is escorting the bodies with money to cover the funeral rite expenses,” MHPA managing director, A K Mishra said, assuring that the bodies would be handed over with honour to the families.

According to project officials, Jaypee officers will return only after completing the funeral rites.

A K Mishra also re-assured the families of the deceased that they would be compensated handsomely. The families will be given a minimum of Nu 1 million each as insurance. The employees are also entitled to generous legitimate gratuity.

Meanwhile, works in the slide prone area of dam pit will be discontinued.

“The works will continue between a reduced distance (RD) 0-100 metres of the total 108  metres as the area isn’t vulnerable and since the project is on a deadline,” A K Mishra said.

Works will discontinue from 100-108 RD since it poses risks to workers. The project is also preparing a report on the accident to enable it to deduce necessary rectifications.

“Maximum technical solutions will be drawn to ensure such things don’t happen in the entire life of the project,” A K Mishra said.

By Tempa Wangdi, Trongsa