After nearly two weeks since the collapse of an under-construction tunnel at Silkyara in Uttarkashi, there’s been notable progress in the ongoing rescue operation to evacuate 41 trapped workers.
Efforts have intensified as a 25-tonne platform, supporting the Heavy American Auger machine responsible for drilling through the debris, underwent reinforcement using an accelerating agent for quick concrete hardening. This strengthening aims to expedite the rescue operations, expected to resume soon.
During the rescue process on Thursday, the platform carrying the equipment had developed cracks, temporarily halting the horizontal drilling through the debris.
According to the official bulletin, despite initiating the pushing of the 9th pipe at 1:10 am on Friday, covering an additional 1.8 meters, a minor vibration was detected. Further investigation revealed an obstruction caused by a bent part of the tunnel lining in the auger assembly.
As a response, the auger was retracted to evaluate potential damage to the pipe, with a welding team deployed inside the pipe to address the bent section. Once completed, the auger reassembly will commence to resume the rescue efforts.
To ensure the safety of the workforce during the pipe-pushing activities, an escape passage—consisting of concrete culvert blocks, hume pipes, and steel pipes—has been constructed, covering a 67-meter stretch (from 187 meters to 120 meters).
Fortunately, the bulletin confirms the safety of the trapped workers, indicating successful communication through a modified wire connectivity system developed by the State Disaster Response Force. Additionally, provisions of freshly cooked food and fruits are regularly provided through a service lifeline, ensuring sustenance for those inside the tunnel.
This incident occurred on November 12, when a section of the under-construction tunnel from Silkyara to Barkot collapsed, trapping 41 laborers within a 2-kilometer stretch that had been completed, offering safety through its concrete structure.