In the ongoing efforts to liberate 40 workers trapped in the collapsed Silkyara tunnel, progress faced a temporary setback on the sixth day. The high-capacity auger drill, tasked with breaking through the debris, came to a halt due to hard obstacles.
However, a swift resolution ensued with the deployment of diamond-bit machines to clear the obstruction, allowing the operation to resume promptly.
Overnight advancements by the rescue teams in Uttarkashi saw the successful insertion of five pipes, each measuring 900 mm in diameter and 6 meters in length, into the debris within the Silkyara Tunnel. Despite this achievement, the presence of a hard substance within the debris momentarily impeded the drilling process.
Thanks to the intervention of diamond-bit machines, the obstruction was swiftly cleared, and drilling resumed. As of 6 AM on Friday, the advanced auger drilling machine had penetrated 25 meters of the accumulated debris within the tunnel.
Officials indicated that an additional 30 to 40 meters of debris must be cleared to reach the trapped workers. The auger machine, operating at full capacity, aims to expedite the rescue process.
Anshu Manish Halko, Director of the National Highways & Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited, emphasized the positive progress in drilling and revealed plans to airlift another machine from Indore to further bolster the efforts.
Disaster management official Devendra Patwal shared that the rescuers anticipate completing the drilling by Friday night, creating an escape tunnel using welded pipes. The high-performance auger drilling machine, weighing 24 tons, was deployed to accelerate rescue efforts following a landslide that caused the tunnel’s collapse.
Officials estimate the need for drilling to continue for approximately 45 to 60 meters to reach the trapped workers.
Throughout the six-day rescue operation, continuous communication with the trapped workers has been maintained to monitor their mental well-being.
The workers have been receiving sustenance through pipes, and a medical facility has been established near the tunnel.
The Indian Air Force, playing a crucial role, airlifted the new drilling machine to the site.
Union Minister VK Singh, optimistic about the rescue efforts, emphasized the priority of saving all trapped individuals.
International support has been sought, with experts from Norway and Thailand providing guidance on navigating the challenging mountain terrain.
Professor Arnold Dix, President of the International Tunnelling and Underground Space Association, expressed readiness to offer assistance and monitor the situation closely.
As the rescue operation unfolds, the global community remains committed to ensuring the safety of the trapped workers in the Silkyara Tunnel.