Uttarakhand Tunnel Accident: Large Pipes To Be Inserted Through Rubbles To Rescue Workers
Dehradun: Concerted efforts are underway in Silkyara Tunnel on Uttarkashi-Yamnotri road, where 40 workers, including five from Odisha, are trapped for over 48 hours.
“The rescue operation is ongoing. Efforts are being made to make a safety passage or a small tunnel with the help of a pipe. Material has been made available at the site. Platform is also being made for them. After that, the construction of escape tunnel will also be started. Everyone is said to be safe. Food and water have been arranged for them. NHIDCL officials say that they have been able to establish continuous communication with them…,” Uttarkashi DM Abhishek Rohilla told news agency ANI.
Chief Development Officer Gaurav Kumar, who went inside the tunnel, said that communication with the workers was established at 10 am. “All of them are safe and sound. Edible items and drinking water are being arranged, the CMO has also arranged some medicines. It is being sent to them. As far as rescue is concerned, pipe pushing is about to start. The platform is ready for that. We are making progress as per our schedule. Hopefully, the process will begin soon…,” he added.
Nearly three feet diameter pipes, wide enough for the trapped men to squeeze through, will be pushed through the heap of debris by drilling a hole using an auger machine. “These three feet diameter pipes arrived early this morning from Haridwar. We will now push them through the piled up debris to create a hole to evacuate the trapped workers,” Hindustan Times quoted an official as saying.
Disaster Management Secretary Ranjit Kumar Sinha, who visited the tunnel on Monday, had said the trapped labourers could be rescued by Tuesday night or Wednesday.
Gabbar Singh Negi, one of the 40 labourers trapped in the under-construction tunnel, also spoke to his son on Tuesday. “I was allowed to speak to my father for a few seconds using the pipe through which oxygen is being supplied to the stranded workers,” Akash Singh Negi told PTI.
Notably, rocks fell over a 200-metre area as a portion of the tunnel, which was being built to connect Silkyara and Dandalgaon in Uttarkashi district, collapsed on early Sunday morning, trapping the workers. Other than five from Odisha, the workers trapped inside include 15 from Jharkhand, eight from Uttar Pradesh, four from Bihar, three from West Bengal, two each from Uttarakhand and Assam, and one from Himachal Pradesh.
While Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has expressed concern over the issue, the Odisha government is said to be in touch with the Uttarakhand government and NHAI authorities for the safe return of workers from the state. The OSDMA authorities also contacted their counterparts in Uttarakhand and the latter informed that all the five workers are safe.
Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan also spoke to Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami about the rescue operations.
The Uttarakhand government, meanwhile, has constituted a six-member expert committee to probe the accident.