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Uttarkashi tunnel rescue: Ray of hope as rescuers drill more than halfway to trapped workers

Uttarkashi tunnel rescue: Ray of hope as rescuers drill more than halfway to trapped workers

Rescue operations have entered a critical phase as efforts to save 41 workers trapped in the Silkyara tunnel collapse in Uttarakhand's Uttarkashi continue into the eleventh day.

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Rescue operations have entered a critical phase as efforts to save 41 workers trapped in the Silkyara tunnel collapse in Uttarakhand's Uttarkashi continue into the eleventh day. Drilling work resumed late on Tuesday after a pause since November 17, and made significant headway.

Rescue agencies have managed to successfully drill 39 metres through the debris. The drilling gained momentum after breaking through a rock formation that had posed a significant obstacle, causing a days-long delay in rescue ops.

Former advisor to the Prime Minister's Office, Bhaskar Khulbe, has said, "It is a matter of great pleasure for us that 39 metres of pipeline has been drilled from inside the horizontal pipeline tunnel. Everything is going well. I spoke to them, and everyone was in high spirits. Let us hope we will be able to achieve it."

The teams utilized 900 mm pipes to reach a depth of 24 metres, and beyond that, they employed 800 mm pipes to advance further to 36 metres. Officials had earlier said that an estimated 60 metres must be cleared in order to push through a pipe wide enough for the men to crawl out.

The rescuers have created space for a vertical drilling platform by cutting into the mountain above the tunnel. Additionally, plans are underway to construct a micro tunnel perpendicular to the existing tunnel from the left side of the tunnel mouth, although this process is expected to take considerable time.

The trapped labourers received a hot meal last night consisting of veg pulao, matar-paneer, and chapatis with butter, all prepared under medical supervision to ensure easy digestion. The food was delivered through a 6-inch wide pipeline that has also been used to send fruits and establish communication with the trapped workers.

For the first time in days, images of the trapped workers were captured using an endoscopic flexi camera inserted through the pipeline, providing some relief as they showed the men in good condition. Modern drilling machinery from various parts of the country has been brought to the site to support all types of drilling operations necessary for the rescue.

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami has stated that the priority remains the safe evacuation of all workers, and that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is being updated regularly on the progress of the rescue efforts. The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has confirmed that there is sufficient water, oxygen, power, and light inside the tunnel where the workers are trapped. 

Edited By: Joydeep Hazarika
Published On: Nov 22, 2023