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Rescue Work Nears Completion, Tunnel Expert Arrives

By FnF Correspondent | PUBLISHED: 23, Nov 2023, 10:21 am IST | UPDATED: 23, Nov 2023, 10:21 am IST

Rescue Work Nears Completion, Tunnel Expert Arrives

New Delhi: The rescue operations at the Silkyara tunnel in Uttarkashi is nearing completion and the 41 trapped workers could be rescued anytime now. The rescuers are working round the clock to save 41 workers who have been trapped inside the tunnel since November 12, when a landslide blocked the entrance. The rescue team had already laid pipeline upto 48 metre on the 60-meter stretch of the tunnel. It is facing challenges in laying down two pipelines on the remaining 12 meter of the stretch that are crucial for the rescue operation.

Meanwhile, International tunneling expert, Arnold Dix on reaching the spot said he was hopeful of reaching the workers soon. “We are at the front door and we are knocking on it. We know that the guys are there on the other side. I am going to have a look and see what is happening…”, he said.

The rescue work in the Silkyara tunnel in Uttarkashi, where several workers are trapped, is almost done. The police chief of Uttarkashi, Arpan Yaduvanshi, said that the drilling work faced some obstacles due to some iron metal, but it was cleared. He said that only about 12 metres of pipeline work was left, and he hoped that the workers would be rescued soon. He also said that the police had prepared a plan to escort the workers to the nearest medical facilities. He said that they would be taken to Chinyalisaur and then to Rishikesh if needed. He also said that some VIPs, including Union Minister General VK Singh (Retd), would be visiting the site.

Meanwhile, former advisor to the Prime Minister's Office, Bhaskar Khulbe has also reached the Silkyara tunnel site where the rescue operation is currently underway to bring out all the trapped workers.

The workers were working on a tunnel project from Silkyara to Barkot when the disaster struck. They are stuck in a 60-meter stretch of the tunnel on the Silkyara side. The rescue team has been using a horizontal drilling machine to insert pipes into the tunnel, but they faced some difficulty in cutting the steel rods in the way.

Colonel Deepak Patil, who is leading the rescue efforts of the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL), told ANI on Thursday morning that the work of laying down two pipelines is still left and their length is approximately 12 metres.

“However, the steel rods in the debris have been removed by the Andaman team through a gas cutter and the obstruction on the way has been eliminated,” he said.

The front part of the last pipe was damaged; the work of cutting it is going on. We have to join two joints, it will take 6 hours. Currently, only a 44-meter pipeline is being laid officially,” he added.

On Wednesday, rescue officer Harpal Singh, who is also the project head of the Zoji-la Tunnel project in Kashmir, said that the rescue team was confident of reaching the trapped workers by Thursday morning.

“We have drilled 44 meters into the tunnel. But we have encountered some steel rods that the machine cannot cut. So, the NDRF personnel will use a gas-cutter to cut them. Then we will use the machine again,” he said.

“I am confident that we can cut the steel pieces in an hour and push two more pipes in the next five hours. Then we can start the rescue operation,” he said late on Wednesday night. The rescue operation has been going on for the past 12 days.

 

The workers are believed to be safe inside the tunnel, which is 8.5 meters high and 2 kilometers long. The tunnel has electricity and water supply for the workers. The NDRF team has also carried oxygen cylinders to the tunnel.

An ambulance and a team of doctors are also ready inside the tunnel and at the Community Health Centre in Chinyalisaur, where a 41-bed hospital has been set up for the workers. Chief Minister Pushkar Dhami is also present in Uttarkashi to oversee the operation.

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