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Kopili hydropower project water tunnel bursts, 4 missing

 HAFLONG, Oct 8 - The four persons, who were feared trapped inside a pump house after a pipeline carrying water to the NEEPCO-run Kopili Hydro Electric Plant burst at Umrangso in Dima Hasao district, remained untraced on Tuesday, more than 24 hours after the accident.

Three employees of the plant – Robert Baite, Prem Pal Balmiki, Joy Sing Timung and an employee of a private firm went missing following a burst in a water tunnel near Umrangso early Monday morning which led to heavy inundation at the power project site resulting in heavy loss to the NEEPCO. The fourth person is yet to be identified.

The burst in the tunnel that carries water at the rate of 12,000 litres per second from the NEEPCO reservoir to the Kopili Hydro Power Project site also led to a water fountain that rose up to several hundred feet into the sky. People said they heard a deafening sound and then saw the water sprout.

Senior NEEPCO functionaries along with Dima Hasao administration and police officials rushed to the spot to take the stock of the situation and assess the rescue efforts.

Dima Hasao deputy commissioner Amitabh Rajkhowa talking to this correspondent said the situation remained same and there was no improvement till the filing of the report.

PTI adds: Project officer of the Dima Hasao District Disaster Management Authority Ricky Phukan said a rescue fire service team that was rushed to the spot on Monday, was trying to trace the missing persons.

“Due to the pressure of water in the area, the quest for the trapped persons has become difficult. A thorough search will be possible only after the water pressure comes down following its release from the reservoir,” he said.

After the accident, NEEPCO opened all the gates of the reservoir to release excess water and reduce the water pressure.

A high-level central team is arriving to probe the accident that had taken place early Monday, an official said.

A few more people, stuck at different locations of the project area, were rescued.

The inter-pipeline and the valve that burst used to supply water to the pump house of the project from its reservoir at Umrangso.

Located on the Kopili river, the Kopili Hydro Electric Project was the maiden venture of NEEPCO when it came into existence in 1976. The total installed capacity of the project is 275 MW.

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