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Sunday, May 19, 2024
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Rescue Operation At Uttarkashi Tunnel Halted For Hours After Debris Fell Towards Drilling Machines

In the ongoing effort to free 40 workers trapped inside the Silkyara Tunnel, rescue crews in Uttarkashi made great progress overnight. The second and third pipes, each with a diameter of 900 mm and a length of 6 metres, have now been entirely inserted into the wreckage.

As of Friday morning at six in the morning, the sophisticated auger drilling equipment had penetrated 21 metres of the tunnel’s accumulated debris, according to the Silkyara Control Room of the Emergency Operation Centre. The operation became more challenging when the drilling process was temporarily stopped due to the presence of a hard substance within the debris.

The 24 tonne high-performance auger drilling machine was brought in to expedite rescue operations following the collapse of the under-construction tunnel due to a landslip. To reach the trapped workers, officials believe that digging will need to go on for 45 to 60 metres. With a remarkable penetration rate of 5 metres per hour, the machine outperforms the previous model in terms of capacity.

As the sixth day of the rescue operations approaches, constant communication has been maintained to check and reassure the trapped workers’ mental health. Through pipelines, the stranded labourers have been getting food, water, and oxygen. They are also communicating with rescuers using walkie-talkies. Beside the tunnel, a medical centre has been set up, and neighbouring hospitals are prepared.

The introduction of the sophisticated drilling equipment came after a series of unfortunate events, such as a landslip and the breakdown of an earlier drill machine. The new drilling machine was airlifted to the location by the Indian Air Force, which was instrumental in the operation.

To efficiently handle the delicate alpine terrain, experts from Norway and Thailand, who are renowned for their experience in comparable rescue situations, have been engaged.

Upon his visit to the location, Union Minister VK Singh expressed hope over the rescue operations, emphasising that the goal is to save every person who is trapped. “Every avenue is being investigated. Employee safety is of utmost importance. International bodies are providing their opinions to us,” he declared.

The International Tunnelling and Underground Space Association’s president, Professor Arnold Dix, told India Today TV that his group was closely monitoring the rescue attempts and was prepared to provide any support that could be needed.

“On behalf of all our member countries, I will be deploying to India to offer all support if the rescue is not affected within the next few hours. India is one of the top tunnelling countries in the world. We are extending to India our full support.” He declared, “This is a very serious situation; 40 lives are at serious risk.”

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