Over 160 personnel from the NDRF, SDRF, BRO, and ITBP are racing against the clock to reach the trapped workers. – Uttarakhand
Officials are hopeful that all 40 stranded workers will be able to be evacuated today after nearly 70 hours of painstaking efforts to rescue them from the debris of a collapsed under-construction tunnel in Uttarakhand is Uttarkashi district. However, a new round of landslides on Tuesday hampered rescue efforts as rubble fell from above, resulting in a stampede-like situation that injured two laborers.
“If everything goes according to plan, the trapped laborers will be evacuated by Wednesday,” Uttarkashi district magistrate Abhishek Ruhela previously told reporters.
Over 160 personnel from the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF), the Border Roads Organisation (BRO), and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) are racing against the clock to reach the trapped workers.
All 40 workers were enclosed within the tunnel being built between Silkyara and Dandalgaon on the Brahmakhal-Yamunotri National Highway, which collapsed on Sunday due to a landslide.
What is the strategy for rescuing the workers?
At the evacuation site, eight 900-millimetre (almost 3 feet) diameter pipes with a length of six metres each and five 800-millimetre diameter pipes with the same length have been brought. The plan is to use drilling equipment to push through both pipes, one after the other, into the rubble.
The pipes will be installed through the rubble of a 30-metre section that collapsed 270 meters from the tunnel’s mouth on the Silkayara side. Shotcreting is the process of spraying concrete on the debris to stabilize the loose muck to penetrate the pipes. The pipes will be jammed through the rubble using a hydraulic jack.
The drilling process began on Tuesday with an auger machine, and excavators have been removing debris along the way for two days.
According to the State Emergency Operation Centre, an expert team of five irrigation engineers is on the scene to supervise the insertion of the mild steel pipes through the rubble.
Workers are ‘doing well’ within the tunnel.
Contact is being maintained with the trapped laborers, and the assurance that a massive rescue operation is being carried out by various agencies to evacuate them has boosted their morale. The workers told Manikant Mishra, the commandant of Uttarakhand is SDRF, on Tuesday that they were “doing well.”
On Tuesday, the son of one of the trapped laborers, Gabbar Singh Negi, was allowed to speak with his father for a few seconds. “He said they were safe. “He asked us not to be concerned,” PTI reported.
However, one of the trapped workers was feeling nauseous and was given medicine.