Uttarkashi tunnel collapse: Rescue gains momentum, 24 metre of 70 metre debris drilled

New Delhi, November 17

On the sixth day of the rescue operation on Friday, efforts to extricate 40 trapped labourers from the collapsed Silkyara-Barkot tunnel in Uttarakhand gained momentum.

The latest drilling machine, having successfully penetrated 24 metre, managed to insert four pipes by Friday afternoon. However, the drilling process temporarily halted when the auger encountered a metallic obstruction and a gas cutter was used to cut the metal.

To expedite the rescue mission, another heavy auger machine has been summoned from Indore, which will remain in the backup in case the machine already deployed develops glitch.

Anshu Manish Khulko, Tunnel Project Director at the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL), said, “We have successfully advanced 24 metre into the tunnel, which is a positive development. Our target is to swiftly reach the opposite end. To enhance our operations, we are arranging for the airlift of an additional machine from Indore, scheduled to arrive tomorrow morning. Currently, work is underway to utilise a gas cutter to cut through the metal, facilitating the auger’s progression through the tunnel.”

The operation involves attaching a 6-metre, 800mm diameter pipe to the auger of the machine, which is then forced into the rubble. The officials mentioned that the speed is approximately 1 to 2 metre per hour.

Khulko emphasised that the pace of work will increase with the insertion of more pipes and the growing experience of the workers. To ensure proper alignment, four to five welding machines are actively engaged in aligning the pipes with the auger. Officials indicated that drilling to a depth of around 70 metre is required to reach the trapped labourers, with an additional 46 metre of drilling needed.


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