Uttarakhand Tunnel Collapse: Another Setback In Operation To Rescue 40 Trapped Workers
Uttarkashi: Six days and 130 hours into a massive operation to evacuate 40 workers trapped inside the collapsed tunnel on Brahmakhal-Yamunotri National Highway, rescuers faced another setback on Friday.
The powerful auger drilling machine stalled after drilling 22 metres through the debris as its bearings were ‘damaged’, following which the machine was anchored onto the platform.
The drilling had resumed in the morning but hit a roadblock a few hours later, and remained stalled. The advanced machine had been in use since Thursday morning after the previous one got damaged with a boulder coming its way.
It drilled through 22 metres in about 20 hours before getting stalled, reported Hindustan Times.
The rescue team has asked for an additional auger machine as back-up. Airlifted from Indore, it’s expected to arrive at the accident site by Saturday morning.
“As of now 22 metre pipe-pushing has been completed. Positioning of Fifth pipe is under progress. The machine is not able to push further as the machine is getting lifted and bearings of machine are getting damaged. Now they are anchoring machines to the platform by providing anchors. The progress of work is being monitored by experts,” National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation (NHIDC) said in a press release.
According to NHIDC director Anshu Manish Khalkho, no progress has been made since early afternoon on Friday.
Khalkho mentioned said as part of plan C, geological experts were exploring possibility of creating a parallel entrance to the tunnel by drilling from outside.
“A survey team is currently assessing the area to determine suitable locations for potentially creating either a parallel vertical tunnel followed by a horizontal one or vice versa. Once the survey data is available, we will incorporate it into our plans. Initially, we did not conduct this survey as we believed we could navigate through the 60 meters of debris,” Khalkho said.
“However, based on a previous survey, we identified that a minimum drill depth of 103 metres would be required for Plan C. Implementing a 103-metre vertical drill poses risks as it may lead to additional debris falling. Nevertheless, if the current plan proves ineffective, we may consider exploring this alternative option,” he said.
Khalkho said a breakthrough was expected after drilling for another 35 metres.