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41 workers trapped in Silkyara tunnel for 17 days finally rescued; WATCH first visuals

Silkyara tunnel collapse: Initially, the plan was to extract the workers through horizontal drilling, led by international tunneling experts. However, the operation faced setbacks when the Auger drill blades broke on November 24, halting progress.

Uttarakhand Rescuers reach 41 workers trapped in Silkyara tunnel since 17 days; WATCH first visuals AJR
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First Published Nov 28, 2023, 7:56 PM IST

In a significant development, rescuers on Tuesday (November 28), managed to free the 41 trapped workers, marking a breakthrough after multiple hurdles had stalled the rescue operations. Initially, the plan was to extract the workers through horizontal drilling, led by international tunneling experts. However, the operation faced setbacks when the Auger drill blades broke on November 24, halting progress.

At the mouth of the Silkyara tunnel, the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) teams stood prepared with essential gear like ropes, lights, and stretchers. The rescue strategy involved a meticulous approach. Initially, the NDRF squad, armed with vital tools, aimed to maneuver through a pipeline to access the opposite end of the collapsed tunnel.

'Heard they are playing cricket': International expert's update on Silkyara rescue op

Plasma and magna rod cutter machines were deployed to retrieve the stuck auger blades, a process that concluded on Monday morning, according to Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami.

In a tweet, CM Dhami said, "As a result of immense grace of Baba Baukh Nagji (and) prayers of crores of countrymen and the tireless work of all rescue teams... the work of laying pipes in the tunnel to take out the workers has been completed. Soon all the labourer brothers will be taken out."

While vertical drilling emerged as an alternative, former DG of Border Roads Organisation, Harpal Singh, revealed that drilling from above the Silkyara-Barkot tunnel had reached a depth of 31 meters.

This operation required drilling a total of 86 meters to establish an escape route for the trapped workers, involving the placement of 1.2-meter-wide pipes from the tunnel's top.

Silkyara tunnel collapse: What is rat-hole mining, how is it different from vertical drilling?

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