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Uttarkashi Tunnel Rescue: 31 Metres Of Vertical Drilling Work Done So Far

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Uttarkashi: The vertical drilling from the top of the hill makes swift progress as 31 metres of drilling work has been completed so far out of the 86 metres needed to reach the 41 trapped workers in the Silkyara tunnel, as per officials.

Now the drilling work is being done to lay an 800/900 mm or 1.2 m diameter pipeline to aid the rescue.

The option to drill vertically was chalked out after the auger machine being used for horizontal drilling of the tunnel broke down.

According to official sources, the American auger machine that was stuck in the debris of the tunnel has been completely cut with a plasma cutter.

The front part of the American Auger machine is stuck in the pipeline. Efforts are underway to remove the debris and the front part of the machine, the officials said.

In the process of cutting and removing the American Auger machine, a 2-metre portion of the last part of the pipeline (i.e. 48 to 50 meters) has also been twisted.

The officials said that cutting and removing the 2-metre portion of the pipeline is also a big challenge.

Further, they added that it is difficult to give an exact time frame when the manual drilling work will start.

As per National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL), the drilling work is expected to be completed by November 30.

Addressing a press conference in Uttarkashi on Sunday, NHIDCL Managing Director Mahmood Ahmad said, “We have to drill around 86 meters to be done within four days that is by November 30. Hopefully, there will be no further hurdles and the work will be completed on time.”

On the issue of escape passage, Mahmood Ahmad said, “We too thought about this issue. A committee has been formed over this and the findings will be out. As of today, our first goal is to safely bring out our 41 workers.”

A unit of Madras Sappers, an engineer group of the Corps of Engineers of the Indian Army was called in on Sunday for manual drilling at the site.

Thirty personnel of the engineer regiment are already at the spot to expedite the rescue operations.

For manual drilling, the Indian Army along with civilians will do rat boring inside the tunnel.

“To do manual drilling, the Indian Army along with civilians will dig out the debris inside the tunnel with weapons like hands, hammers and chisels and then the pipe will be pushed forward from the platform built inside the pipe,” an official said.

After a portion of the tunnel caved in on November 12, the debris falling in the 60-metre stretch on the Silkyara side of the tunnel trapped 41 labourers inside the under-construction structure.

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