Uttarkashi tunnel collapse: Rescue operation on halt again; likely to go ahead with manual drilling
Uttarkashi tunnel collapse: The rescue operations to evacuate 41 workers trapped inside the collapsed Silkyara tunnel in Uttarakhand’s Uttarkashi district. The drilling was again halted last night after the auger machine encountered another glitch.
The rescue operations to evacuate 41 workers trapped inside the collapsed Silkyara tunnel in Uttarakhand’s Uttarkashi district entered the fourteenth day on Saturday. The auger machine had another malfunction on Friday night, and the drilling was stopped once more. With one hurdle or the other not letting the auger machine drill further and lay steel pipes through the rubble to prepare an escape route, rescuers are considering option of manual drilling. However, manual drilling takes longer time, an official said.
Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami, who conducted an inspection of the Silkyara tunnel site on Friday, said that the rescue operation is in its "final stage" and assured that both central and state government agencies are working together to get the 41 trapped men out.
Over the past three days, there have been many setbacks for the Uttarkashi tunnel rescue mission. Drilling was halted on Wednesday due to an auger machine collision with some iron structures. The rescue effort started up again on Thursday after an hours-long break, but it ran into a technical issue late at night.
After the auger machine was put back together on Friday, drilling got underway. However, a new challenge emerged when the auger machine collided with a metal girder. Since then, the rescue effort has been put on hold.
Forty-one ambulances remain on standby at the tunnel's entrance, ready to whisk the workers away to the Chinyalisaur Community Health Centre. A designated ward has also been set up with 41 oxygen-equipped beds, prepared to provide each worker with prompt medical care.
Situated about 30 km from Uttarkashi and a seven-hour drive from Dehradun, the Silkyara tunnel is an integral part of the central government's Char Dham all-weather road project.