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  India   All India  24 Nov 2023  Drilling Hit, Tunnel Rescue Postponedtunnel

Drilling Hit, Tunnel Rescue Postponedtunnel

Published : Nov 24, 2023, 2:34 am IST
Updated : Nov 24, 2023, 2:34 am IST

Horizontal drilling effort faces obstruction

Locals carrying a deity on a palanquin offer prayers at the Silkyara Tunnel's entrance during the rescue operation of 41 workers trapped inside the tunnel, in Uttarkashi, Thursday, Nov. 23, 2023. (PTI Photo)
 Locals carrying a deity on a palanquin offer prayers at the Silkyara Tunnel's entrance during the rescue operation of 41 workers trapped inside the tunnel, in Uttarkashi, Thursday, Nov. 23, 2023. (PTI Photo)

Dehradun, New Delhi: Rescue efforts at the partially collapsed Silkyara-Barkot Tunnel in Uttarkashi were further delayed as efforts to drill through the rubble and evacuate the 41 workers were hindered by recurring obstructions on Thursday. Officials handling the rescue operations claimed they are moving ahead with caution, but obstructions have delayed the evacuation process.

Meanwhile, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) on Thursday said they could bring out the workers trapped inside the Uttarkashi tunnel in Uttarakhand late on Thursday or by Friday.

While briefing the media about the ongoing rescue operations, NDMA member Lt. Gen. Syed Ata Hasnain said that it will be unfair to speculate on the exact timeline for rescue operations, as it is just like fighting a war.

Hasnain also said that the horizontal drilling to rescue workers may face three or four more hurdles.

Rescue operations to evacuate the workers resumed on Thursday morning after an overnight hurdle delayed the drilling by several hours.

According to the information shared by the officials overseeing rescue works, their hopes of an early evacuation suffered a setback on Thursday evening as they could drill only 1.8 metres beyond the 45 metres drilled till Wednesday.

Officials claim that only 13 metres of drilling remain for the escape passage to reach the trapped workers. However, given the recurring obstructions, they are moving ahead with caution.

They said early evacuation of the trapped workforce was expected until Wednesday evening, when the auger machine was operating at high speed, leading to 18 metres of drilling in the day, but then they hit an iron-girdled blockade.

"Escape passage drilling work had to be stopped midway through on Wednesday evening. It took more than six hours to remove the girdle from the path of the auger machine. It was resumed on Thursday morning, but only 1.8 metres of additional passage could be drilled as the machine encountered another obstacle. Drilling has been stopped and technicians are trying to detect the cause behind the obstruction," said additional secretary Union ministry of road transport and highways (MoRTH) Mahmood Ahmed, who is heading the rescue operations.

"We are moving ahead with caution with the hope that drilling continues without any hindrances, but we have to be prepared for dealing with the obstructions as well. Our task will be easier once 50-55-metre drilling is completed," Ahmed added.

"Escape passage drilling work is facing hurdles and challenges, but the rescue teams are upbeat and motivated. It's taking time, but we will get there soon," informed Uttarakhand government's nodal officer for rescue operation Neeraj Khairwal.

The officials maintained that the rescue operation will succeed soon, but they restrained from giving any deadline.

Both Ahmed and Khairwal claimed on Wednesday that 41 workers languishing inside the collapsed tunnel for 11 days will be out by Thursday.

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami visited the accident site on Wednesday night and Union minister of state Gen. V.K. Singh landed there on Thursday morning. However, they returned after meeting officials and taking stock of the rescue operation.


Tags: uttarkashi tunnel collapse, rescue efforts, silkyara tunnel
Location: India, Uttarakhand