Since Friday night, efforts to free laborers stranded inside the partially collapsed section of the Silkyara-Barkot tunnel under construction in Uttarkashi, Uttarakhand, have been suspended due to an issue with the auger machine used to drill and insert pipes through the debris. The new high-performance drilling machine was airlifted to the location from Indore, Madhya Pradesh, and assembly is currently underway. Before it is used for drilling, three components will be put together, according to officials.
The number of workers trapped inside the tunnel has been revised to 41, and on Saturday the rescue and relief operations began their seventh day. Forty workers were reportedly stuck inside the tunnel, according to a list released earlier by the NHIDCL. The forty-first person found trapped inside was Deepak Kumar from the Muzaffarpur district of Bihar.
To assess the rescue effort, a team from the prime minister’s office (PMO) is also present at the location. An on-the-spot review is being conducted by MoRTH additional secretary Mahmood Ahmed, PMO deputy secretary Mangesh Ghildiyal, geologist Varun Adhikari, and engineering expert Armando Capellan.
Here is the latest from the Uttarkashi tunnel collapse site:
The rescue operation was put on hold due to a machine snag. Around 2.45 pm on Friday, during the positioning of the fifth pipe, a loud cracking sound was heard in the tunnel after which the rescue operation was suspended.
The sound created panic in the rescue team. The pipe-pushing activity was stopped after an expert involved with the project warned about the possibility of further collapse in the vicinity.
At his official Dehradun residence, Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami met with officials to receive an update on the rescue efforts at the Silkyara tunnel. Dhami expressed his hope that the cutting-edge equipment produced both domestically and overseas would prove effective in the rescue efforts. “The state government is actively working to evacuate laborers who are stuck inside the tunnel areas, under the direction of the PMO. We hope to complete the mission successfully soon,” he remarked. “The families of the workers who are trapped are supported by the government.” Our top goal is to ensure their prompt and safe departure,” he continued.
So far, rescue workers have managed to drill through up to 24 metres of rubble. It may require up to 60 meters (195 feet) to enable the escape of workers.
Authorities have made sure that vital supplies like oxygen, medication, food, and water reached the trapped laborers through air-compressed pipes, and all of the workers are currently in good physical and mental health. “The people’s morale must be preserved… The availability of food and water, as well as the mental health of the stranded laborers, are all good. There are psychologists there talking to them. They are all in good physical and mental health, according to NHIDCL director Anshu Manish Khalkho.
Meanwhile, people whose relatives are among the 40 trapped workers are being allowed to speak to them through a pipe inside the tunnel. Two people from Uttar Pradesh were allowed to speak to their kin, who are among the trapped workers. An official of the Odisha government’s labour department has also spoken to the state’s workers trapped. Five labourers from Odisha are among the 40 workers who have been trapped there.
The Jharkhand government also sent a team of officials to Silkyara to enquire about the wellbeing of workers from the state who are among the 40 labourers trapped in the collapsed part of an under-construction tunnel.
Earlier, the rescuers had hoped to complete the drilling by Friday night and create an escape tunnel of pipes welded together. However, the operation is progressing slower than expected due to several issues including the nature of the debris.