Dehradun: The recent landslide further complicated the efforts to rescue 40 labourers stuck in a tunnel under construction in Uttarakhand for more than 70 hours. Despite extensive preparations for an auger drilling machine, a Tuesday night landslide led rescue teams to dismantle the machine and restart platform construction.
New equipment is on its way from New Delhi to support the ongoing rescue efforts. Uttarkashi District Magistrate Abhishek Ruhela had earlier indicated to the media the possibility of evacuating the trapped labourers by Wednesday.
“If everything goes as planned, the trapped labourers will be evacuated by Wednesday,” he said after visiting the accident site on Tuesday evening.
New footage shows the rescue teams dismantling both the drilling machine and the platform that had been previously constructed.
Protests have erupted among several workers at the rescue site due to the delay in extracting the trapped labourers.
Videos from the location reveal substantial piles of concrete obstructing the tunnel, with twisted metal bars from its collapsed roof creating additional challenges for the predominantly migrant rescue workers from Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Odisha, Uttarakhand, and Himachal Pradesh.
The plan involves advancing both 800- and 900-millimetre diameter sections of mild steel pipes successively into the rubble using drilling equipment, aiming to establish an escape passage for the workers. Officials assure that the trapped workers, deemed safe, are receiving oxygen, water, food packets, and medicines through tubes.
The State Emergency Operation Centre reports the availability of eight 900-millimeter diameter pipes, each six meters in length, and five pipes of 800-millimeter diameter of the same length.
The tunnel section, part of the Brahmakhal-Yamunotri National Highway between Silkyara and Dandalgaon, collapsed on Sunday after a landslide. Officials state that the trapped workers have around 400 meters of space for movement and breathing.
Rescue teams have successfully communicated with the workers using Walkie-Talkies. Initial contact was established through a note on a scrap of paper, and later, rescuers established a connection using radio handsets.