Day 3 of India tunnel collapse: 900mm pipes, new drill on-site to rescue 40 trapped workers

Teams still have to clear about 35 metres of debris to reach the location where the construction workers are stuck

By ANI

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Rescue workers gather at the site after a tunnel collapsed in the Uttarkashi district of India's Uttarakhand state. Photo: AFP
Rescue workers gather at the site after a tunnel collapsed in the Uttarkashi district of India's Uttarakhand state. Photo: AFP

Published: Tue 14 Nov 2023, 10:38 AM

Last updated: Tue 14 Nov 2023, 1:06 PM

Rescue operations continued for the third day to evacuate 40 workers still trapped inside an under-construction tunnel that collapsed in Uttarakhand, India, on Sunday.

Trucks laden with 900 mm diameter pipes started arriving at Silkyara at midnight. A portion of the under-construction tunnel between Silkyara and Dandalgaon on the Brahmakhal-Yamunotri national highway collapsed in the early hours of November 12.

According to authorities, a platform is being prepared for an auger machine to drill horizontally and insert large-diameter MS pipes in between the debris so that the trapped workers can be taken out through the metal pipes.

Rescuers said that the teams still have to clear about 35 metres of debris more to reach the location of the 40 trapped workers. The platform for the auger machine has been prepared.

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Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP

Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami on Monday conducted an on-site inspection of the rescue operations. "I myself visited the spot and conducted an on-site inspection and am constantly keeping an eye on the rescue operations. Arrangements have been made to send large diameter pipes from Haridwar and Dehradun for rescue operations," Dhami said.

Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP

Meanwhile, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also talked to Chief Minister Dhami over the phone and inquired about the 40 workers trapped inside the tunnel. Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw have also inquired about the worksers with the Uttarakahand Chief Minister.

Uttarkashi Superintendant of Police (SP) Arpan Yaduvanshi on Monday had said it may take one more day to rescue the workers.

He said that out of the 60 metres of debris, over 20 metres of debris had been cleared and they expected to evacuate the 40 people trapped inside by Tuesday night. "All basic amenities including oxygen, food and water are being provided to them through pipes. Family members of the people trapped have also been contacted..." the police official said.

The Silkyara Tunnel is 4531 meters long and is being constructed at a cost of Rs8.53 billion.

A report from the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL) says the tunnel had been breached by 21 metres and rescue efforts are continuing.

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