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Business News/ News / India/  Uttarkashi tunnel collapse: Rescue efforts for 41 workers near completion
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Uttarkashi tunnel collapse: Rescue efforts for 41 workers near completion

The collapse of the under-construction tunnel from Silkyara to Barkot was caused by debris falling over a 60-mtr stretch

A view of the collapsed under construction Silkyara tunnel in the Uttarkashi district of India's Uttarakhand state. (Photo: AFP)Premium
A view of the collapsed under construction Silkyara tunnel in the Uttarkashi district of India's Uttarakhand state. (Photo: AFP)

New Delhi: A rescue effort to free 41 workers trapped in a collapsed tunnel in Uttarkashi, Uttarakhand, is nearing completion, with officials anticipating a breakthrough by Thursday evening or Friday.

The Silkyara tunnel, stretching 4.5km, caved in on 12 November, with workers trapped inside. On the 12th day of efforts, the rescue team is close to reaching the workers after successfully inserting an 800-mtr pipe through the debris.

Authorities have drilled nearly 60 mtr into the debris, inserting pipes through which the workers are expected to be evacuated. The operation faced a setback when a metal girder was encountered, according to a government statement, causing damage to the drilling machine and temporarily stalling the efforts.

Five government agencies, including National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corp. Ltd. (NHIDCL), ONGC, Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam (SJVNL), Tehri Hydro Development Corp. Ltd. (THDC) and Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd. (RVNL), have been exploring ways to rescue the trapped workers. Equipment for a vertical rescue tunnel is being installed on-site, with machinery sourced from across the country.

THDC has initiated a separate tunnel from Barkot end, and RVNL is arranging for micro-tunneling equipment for horizontal drilling. ONGC is mobilizing international and national machinery for vertical boring.

A breakthrough was achieved on Monday when NHIDCL drilled an additional pipeline to supply essentials to the workers. Communication lines have also been established, allowing direct contact with the trapped individuals.

The collapse of the under-construction tunnel from Silkyara to Barkot was caused by debris falling over a 60-mtr stretch. The state and central governments rapidly mobilized resources to rescue the workers. Multiple rescue options were considered after initial plans to use a 900 mm pipe were revised due to safety concerns. The trapped laborers are in a section of the tunnel that provides safety, along with access to electricity and water.

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Published: 23 Nov 2023, 06:26 PM IST
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