Tunnel collapse: New drill begins rescue work

The new high-capacity auger machine, sent by the Centre on Wednesday, started carrying out drilling inside the debris at the Silkyara tunnel collapse site on the Char Dham route in Uttarakhand’s Uttarkashi district on Thursday morning.

The machine penetrated around 12 meters inside the debris on the second half of the day. The rescue team has undertaken both the exercise simultaneously – horizontal drilling as well as inserting steel pipes to expedite the process for making a passage for the safe evacuation of the 40 trapped labourers. By 4.30 pm, the team had successfully inserted a 9-meter pipe inside the debris.

As per the reports, the advanced and high-capacity machine was successfully installed around 8 am on Thursday. “It was around 11.30 am when the drilling process started and this enhanced the confidence level of the rescuers to complete their task,” sources said.

According to the sources, what is taking time is the pipe welding job which is done manually. “This process takes time. Since the drilling process has enhanced the confidence level of all those engaged in the rescue operation, the speed of pipe welding process would be automatically fast during drilling,” the source hoped.

Sources added that everyone is praying to not face a chance of a big boulder in the way of horizontal drilling. “If the drilling process continues smoothly without facing hurdles in the form of any big boulder, we would be soon able to ensure safe evacuation of the 40 trapped labourers. If everything goes as per our plan, the rescue operation may be over in next 24 to 48 hours,” a source, who is present at the Silkyara tunnel collapse site, told this reporter.

Meanwhile, Union minister of state for road transport and highways general VK Singh (retired) visited the accident site and reviewed the progress made in the rescue operation. He told reporters that it is the top priority of the state government to ensure safe evacuation of the labourers. He further said the optional plan ready for the safe evacuation of the trapped labourers is also ready.

A total of 40 workers are trapped in the under-construction tunnel on the Char Dham route that collapsed on Sunday. The administration continues to supply oxygen, electricity, medicines, food items and water to them through pipes.

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