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Business News/ News / India/  Uttarkashi tunnel collapse: Manual excavation from today, rescuers say vertical drilling likely to finish by Nov 30
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Uttarkashi tunnel collapse: Manual excavation from today, rescuers say vertical drilling likely to finish by Nov 30

Rescue efforts continue for 41 workers trapped in the Silkyara-Barkot tunnel as rat miners are brought in for manual drilling. Vertical drilling work is also underway.

Rescue operation is underway in the Silkyara Tunnel where 41 workers are trapped inside after a portion of it collapsed, in Uttarkashi on Monday. (ANI )Premium
Rescue operation is underway in the Silkyara Tunnel where 41 workers are trapped inside after a portion of it collapsed, in Uttarkashi on Monday. (ANI )

The fate of 41 workers trapped in the Silkyara-Barkot tunnel remained uncertain for a third week as rescuers continued their efforts. ‘Rat miners’ were brought in on Monday as vertical drilling work continued. The team of six will be drilling by hand from inside the 900-millimetre rescue pipe after clearing away broken equipment debris.

“...Manual drilling is about to start. There will be a team of six members who will work in groups of three. There are sensors to monitor movement inside the earth..." said NHAI member Vishal Chauhan.

Horizontal drilling was stopped last week after the auger machine broke down repeatedly after excavating some 48 metres (out of 57 metres). Rescuers worked overnight to pull out parts of the drilling machine stuck inside the pipes so manual digging could start. They will now drill by hand to continue inserting pipes through the debris trapping the men.

Officials hope to pull the stranded men out on wheeled stretchers via the narrow welded passageway.

ALSO READ: Adani Group issues clarification as some link it to Uttarkashi tunnel collapse

Earlier reports had suggested that manual drilling efforts could be delayed by inclement weather in the area. NDMA Member Lt General (Rtd) Syed Ata Hasnain however said that there was “there is no possibility that work will be hindered" by rainfall.

Rescuers had begun the process of vertical drilling on Sunday after the auger machine broke down beyond repair. Considered the second-best option, this involves drilling through 86 meters of soil and rocks before breaking through the crust of the Uttarkashi tunnel.

“We have completed around 30 meters of drilling. The current machine that has been deployed can drill around 40-45 meters. We have brought two more machines for this purpose. SJVNL has brought those machines. Changeover machines will take time. We are expecting vertical drilling work would be completed by November 30," said National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited MD Mahmood Ahmad.

ALSO READ: Uttarkashi tunnel collapse: Breakthrough expected in ‘horizontal drilling’ rescue operation at Silkyara site

“We plan to drill two more pipes now so that we achieve a length of up to 60 metres through the rubble to get some extended space," NDRF Director General Atul Karwal had said last week as work ground to a halt around the 48-metre mark.

The 800-mm pipes have a width of nearly 32 inches – which the NDRF chief had earlier assured was more than enough space to carry out the rescue operation.

(With inputs from agencies)

 

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Published: 27 Nov 2023, 06:55 PM IST
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