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Business News/ News / India/  Uttarkashi Tunnel Collapse: 'Hope for the safe return of trapped workers by Christmas', says expert Arnold Dix
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Uttarkashi Tunnel Collapse: 'Hope for the safe return of trapped workers by Christmas', says expert Arnold Dix

International tunneling expert Arnold Dix also emphasized the importance of the rescue operation focusing on ensuring the safe return of the labourers and rescuers.

Entrance of the south portal (Silkyara side) of the Silkyara Bend-Barkot Tunnel during the rescue operation of 41 workers trapped inside the under-construction tunnel, in Uttarkashi district (PTI Photo/Arun Sharma)Premium
Entrance of the south portal (Silkyara side) of the Silkyara Bend-Barkot Tunnel during the rescue operation of 41 workers trapped inside the under-construction tunnel, in Uttarkashi district (PTI Photo/Arun Sharma)

International tunneling expert Arnold Dix expressed optimism about the safe return of the 41 workers trapped in Uttarkashi's Silkyara tunnel, expressing hope that they would be home in time for Christmas. In a conversation with ANI, Dix emphasized the importance of the rescue operation focusing on ensuring the safe return of the labourers and rescuers.

Also Read | Uttarkashi tunnel collapse: Auger drill stuck in the rubble, trapped workers likely to remain stuck for weeks: Top 10 updates

Dix stated, "It may take some time, perhaps up to a month, but I cannot specify the exact timeline. Rushing the process is not advisable. The priority is the safe return of these men, and I am confident they will be home for Christmas."

Clarifying his earlier statements, Dix also told ANI that he never assured a swift or easy rescue operation, reiterating his commitment to ensuring the safety of the workers above all else.

Technical Challenges

Today, Syed Ata Hasnain from the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) highlighted the growing technical complexity of the rescue operation at the Silkyara tunnel. Hasnain underscored the unpredictable nature of the environment in which rescuers are operating.

Track | Uttarkashi tunnel collapse LIVE Updates here

Hasnain assured that despite the technical complexities, all 41 trapped workers were in stable conditions within the tunnel. He emphasised the challenges faced during operations in mountainous terrain, likening the situation to that of a war zone due to the unpredictability of such landscapes.

The Indian Air Force is airlifting advanced machinery to extract the damaged section of the auger machine from the tunnel. Hasnain conveyed that while the trapped workers were stable, challenges persisted due to the damaged machinery hindering the rescue operation.

Hasnain revealed plans to commence drilling within the next one to two days and highlighted the standby 12-member team from Sutlej Jal Vidyut Nigam (SJVN) prepared for vertical drilling in the tunnel. The final decision regarding the vertical drilling approach will be made jointly by SJVN and the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation.

Also Read | Uttarkashi tunnel collapse: Mountain resists machine once again, alternative methods sought to rescue trapped workers

Timeline of Events

The workers were trapped on November 12 when a section of the tunnel collapsed, leaving them stranded within a 60-metre stretch on the Silkyara side. The affected area is within a 2-kilometre portion of the tunnel.

Rescue efforts have since been going on and international tunnelling experts have been called in for support. A number of teams have also arrived from across India with a number of mechanical equipment at the tunnel site to aid the operation.

The multi-agency rescue operation was halted yesterday, November 25, again when the blades of the Auger machine got stuck while drilling. Now that the officials are working out another option to rescue the trapped workers, the workers might remain trapped for another few weeks.

Also Read | Uttarkashi Tunnel Collapse: Trapped brothers unaware of cousins' death, family says ‘don’t want them to know’

In order to take stock of the situation inside the tunnel, an endoscopic camera is being used to send live visuals. The stranded workers are being sent solid food, medicines, multivitamins, anti-depressants, and other essentials through the six-inch wide pipe inside the tunnel where water and electricity are available.

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Published: 26 Nov 2023, 09:12 AM IST
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