Water fountain formed due to the accident at Umrangso in Assam’s Dima Hasao district Credit: EastMojo image

Guwahati: Increasing water levels have adversely affected the search operations to rescue four persons, who went missing following the rupture of a water pipeline of the Kopili Hydro Electric Plant of state-run North Eastern Electric Power Corporation (NEEPCO) at Umrangso in Assam’s Dima Hasao district on Monday morning. However, six employees managed to survive.

Official sources informed that the water coming from the ruptured pipeline have created havoc in the locality and the project area of the NEEPCO has been flooded, including the power house.

National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams have been pressed into service to rescue the affected people but the rise of water level has turned to be an obstacle till the filing of this report.

The site of the accident at Umrangso in Assam’s Dima Hasao district

Family members of the missing persons have already reached the site and are demanding the authorities concerned to trace these people as soon as possible. The missing persons were reportedly working in the power house when the accident took place. They have been identified as Robert Baite, Prem Pal Balmiki, Joy Sing Timung and Robert Tete Ngamlai.

“We are passing some tense moments as we are yet to get any information about Ngamlai. Because of the increasing water, the search operation has not been able to bring any expected result. However, we request the authorities concerned to take initiative to rescue all these four persons,” Emmanuel Hmar, a college teacher and friend of Ngamlai, said.

As usual, he went to duty that day to repair some pipes of the project. He was working as an engineer there, Hmar added.

The site of the accident at Umrangso in Assam’s Dima Hasao district

Sources further informed that because of the increasing water levels, the rescue operations have been adversely affected. “We are desperately trying our best to reduce the water level. Once the water level reduces, then only we can manage to take control of the entire situation,” official sources said.

It further added that the water fountain formed soon after the rupture rose up to hundreds of feet into sky creating massive fear psychosis in the area. It also informed here that the water supply line caries almost 12,000 litres/sec from the NEEPCO reservoir to the Kopili hydro-power project site. “Now, you realise how would be the scene at the spot. You can’t imagine, if you can’t see this,” some of the locals at the accident site said.

A view of the fountain of water created soon after the burst

The water tunnel that cracked was reportedly repaired last year by a team of experts. Senior NEEPCO, Dima Hasao district and police officials have rushed the spot to assess rescue efforts.

After the incident, NEEPCO opened all the gates of the reservoir to release excess water and reduce the pressure. Located on the Kopili river in Dima Hasao, the Kopili Hydro Electric Project was the maiden venture of NEEPCO when it came into existence in 1976. The current total installed capacity of the project is 275 MW.

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