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Business News/ News / India/  Uttarkashi Tunnel Disaster Day 16: A detailed timeline of rescue operations, unfolding day by day

Uttarkashi Tunnel Disaster Day 16: A detailed timeline of rescue operations, unfolding day by day

Rescue teams face new challenges every day while digging the tunnel to rescue 41 trapped labourers in Uttarakhand's Silkyara tunnel.

Vertical drilling work continues as the rescue operation is underway in the Silkyara Tunnel where 41 workers are trapped inside after a portion of it collapsed, in Uttarkashi on Sunday. (ANI)Premium
Vertical drilling work continues as the rescue operation is underway in the Silkyara Tunnel where 41 workers are trapped inside after a portion of it collapsed, in Uttarkashi on Sunday. (ANI)

The operation to rescue 41 trapped labourers inside Uttrakashi's Silkyara tunnel may take a little longer time as the rescue teams are facing new challenges every day while digging the tunnel. A portion of the under-construction tunnel on Uttarakhand's Char Dham route collapsed following a landslide, cutting off the exit for the workers inside on Diwali eve. 

Uttarkashi tunnel collapse: Timeline of disaster and rescue operations 

- November 12: As many as 41 laborers get trapped as portions of the Silkyara-Dandalgaon under-construction tunnel on the Brahmkhal-Yamunotri highway collapse following a landslide at around 5.30 am on the day of Diwali in Uttarakhand's Uttarkashi. The district administration launched a rescue operation. 

- November 13: CM Pushkar Dhami visited the spot and contact is established with the trapped workers through a pipe meant to supply oxygen to them. Fresh rubble keeps falling from above. 

- November 14: Steel pipes of 800- and 900-millimetre diameter are brought to the tunnel site to be inserted through the rubble with the help of an auger machine for horizontal digging. However, when more rubble falls from the cavity and two workers sustained minor injuries. The trapped workers are supplied food, water, oxygen, electricity and medicines. 

- November 15: Dissatisfied with the first drilling machine, the NHIDCL asks for a state-of-the-art auger machine, which is airlifted from Delhi to speed up the operation.

- November 16: The new drilling machine is assembled and installed. It starts working past midnight.

- November 17: The machine drills about 24 metres through the 57-metre stretch rubble stretch by the afternoon and four MS pipes are inserted. However, the process again comes to a halt when the fifth pipe hits an obstacle. Hence, another high-performance auger machine is flown down from Indore to assist in the rescue efforts. In evening, a big cracking sound was heard in the tunnel and the operation is suspended immediately.

- November 18: A team of officials from the PMO and experts who decide to work on five evacuation plans simultaneously, including vertical drilling through the top of the tunnel to rescue the trapped labourers explored alternative options. 

- November 19: Drilling remains suspended. Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari reviews the rescue operation and said boring horizontally with the huge auger machine appeared to be the best bet.

- November 20: Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to Dhami over phone to take stock of the rescue operations at the Silkyara tunnel and stresses on the need to keep their morale up.

- November 21: Rescuers release the first video of the labourers trapped inside the Silkyara tunnel. They were seen in yellow and white helmets, receiving food items sent to them through the pipeline and talking to each other. Two blasts are set off at the Balkot-end of the under-construction tunnel on the Char Dham route, beginning the process of drilling another tunnel - an alternative to the Silkyara-end option.

- November 22: Horizontal drilling of 800 mm diameter steel pipes reaches about 45 metres with only 12 metres remaining of the around 57-metre debris stretch. However, the drilling hits a hurdle when some iron rods come in the way of the auger machine in evening. 

- November 23: The iron obstruction that had caused a delay of six hours in the drilling is removed in the morning. Rescue operations are resumed. Officials say the 48-metre point has been reached by the drill. But boring through the rubble had to be put on hold again apparently after cracks appeared in the platform on which the drilling machine rests.

- November 24: Drilling at the collapsed Silkyara tunnel to rescue 41 men trapped inside for 12 days was halted again on Friday, officials said. The auger drilling machine faced a hurdle, apparently a metal object, soon after drilling resumed Friday. 

- November 25: International tunnelling expert Arnold Dix on Saturday said the auger machine engaged for drilling through the rubble at the Silkyara tunnel has busted with rescuers considering other options, including vertical and manual drilling, to bring out the 41 trapped workers.

- November 26: Rescuers begin drilling into the hill above the Silkyara-Barkot tunnel Sunday. They have to drill down 86 metres to reach the tunnel. By evening, the heavy drilling equipment had bored down to about 19.5 metres. Two BRO officials were injured after their SUV was hit by a private bus near the Silkyara tunnel site on Sunday afternoon.


(With PTI inputs)

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Published: 27 Nov 2023, 08:55 AM IST
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