Uttarakhand Tunnel Collapse: A rescue operation for 41 trapped workers was put on hold on Sunday, November 19 as the agencies were involved in preparing for the next stage by adopting multiple approaches to reach the men trapped for the past few days. Here are the top developments on this story,
1) Officials said a road to the top of the hill has been laid in a single day for digging a vertical shaft down into the tunnel, according to a report published by the news agency PTI.
2) The Tehri Hydroelectric Development Corporation was set to begin “micro tunneling" Sunday night from the Barkot end of the under-construction tunnel on the Char Dham route, part of which collapsed on November 12.
3) Boring through the debris of the collapsed 60-meter stretch from the Silkyara end was put on hold Friday afternoon when the American-made heavy-duty auger machine encountered a hard obstacle after about 22 meters, PTI reported.
4) In addition, the Rail Vikas Nigam Limited has begun work on a vertical pipeline for supplying essential items after the completion of the approach road to the top of the hill.
5) The multiple-pronged approach now being adopted follows a series of setbacks after a portion of the Silkyara-Barkot tunnel collapsed the previous Sunday morning, blocking the way out for the workers who were ending the night shift.
6) Road, Transport and Highways Secretary Anurag Jain on Sundays said that the government has undertaken a five-option action plan to rescue 41 workers trapped at Silkyara Tunnel in Uttarkashi since November 12.
7) Union Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari on Sunday visited the collapsed tunnel spot and said boring horizontally through the debris with the huge auger machine appeared to be the best bet. He anticipated a breakthrough in two and a half days.
8) "Saving the trapped workers and evacuating them at the earliest is the biggest priority. Preparations are underway to restart the auger machine and resume drilling and pipe-laying at the tunnel," Gadkari said.
9) "Though I am no technical expert, in the given circumstances horizontal digging seems the best option. If the auger machine does not encounter any obstacles it might reach the trapped workers in two and a half days," he said.
10) A similar machine was also dispatched from Indore in case a replacement was needed. The vertical drilling equipment arriving next is too big to be hauled by air and will be brought to the site by road, the authorities said.
(With inputs from agencies)
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