Indian workers trapped for over two weeks in tunnel, new Delhi, India (AP) — Authorities in India announced on Monday that the final step of rescuing the 41 construction workers trapped in a collapsed mountain tunnel in the country’s north for more than two weeks would begin with manual drilling.
41 Indian Workers Trapped for Over Two Weeks in Tunnel
On Sunday, November 26, 2023, Indian army forces prepare to deploy a mini excavator at the site of an under-construction road tunnel that collapsed in Silkyara, Uttarakhand, India. Rescuers are racing against the clock to free 41 construction workers who have been trapped in the tunnel for nearly two weeks.
NEW DELHI, India (AP) — Authorities in India announced on Monday that the final step of rescuing the 41 construction workers trapped in a collapsed mountain tunnel in the country’s north for more than two weeks would begin with manual drilling.
This occurred a day after an attempt to drill vertically — an alternative strategy to digging horizontally from the front — began, with the newly updated drilling machine excavating around 20 metres (nearly 65 feet), according to officials.
Devendra Patwal, a disaster management officer on the scene, said they were prepared for any hurdles, but hoped they wouldn’t face severe opposition from the mountain.
“We have no idea what the drilling machine will have to cut through.” It might be rocks or loose soil. “But we’re ready,” he said. So far, rescuers have excavated and placed pipes up to 46 metres (150.9 feet) long, welded together to serve as a corridor from which the guys would be dragged out on wheeled stretchers.
Because of the area’s rough terrain, the drilling machine broke down frequently and was permanently damaged on Friday, necessitating its replacement.
Rescuers laboured overnight to free sections of the drilling machine locked inside the pipes so that hand digging could begin, according to Patwal.
The labourers have been stranded since November 12, when a landslip in Uttarakhand state caused a section of the 4.5-kilometer (2.8-mile) tunnel they were constructing to collapse just 200 metres (650 feet) from the entrance.
The vertical drilling, which began on Sunday, required rescuers to excavate approximately 106 metres (347 feet), according to officials. This is roughly twice the length of the 60 metres (196 feet) they need to dig through horizontally from the front.
They may also face the same risks or problems that ruined the original drilling equipment attempting to cut through rocks. Drilling’s high-intensity vibrations may potentially cause more debris to fall.
As the rescue operation neared its 16th day, there was mounting concern about its destiny. What began as a few-day rescue attempt has grown into weeks, and officials have been unwilling to provide a schedule.
Some officials hoped that the rescue attempt would be completed by the end of the week. However, Arnold Dix, an international expert supporting the rescue squad, told reporters that he was optimistic the workers will be reunited with their families by Christmas, implying that they were prepared for a lengthy operation.
The majority of those trapped are migrant workers from throughout the country. Many of their families have travelled to the spot, where they have been camped out for days in the hopes of receiving updates on the rescue effort and seeing their relatives soon.
After days of surviving solely on dry food delivered through a narrower channel, authorities have begun delivering hot meals through a six-inch (15-centimeter) pipe to the stranded workers.
A second pipe is also supplying oxygen, and more than a dozen doctors, including psychiatrists, have been on-site monitoring their health. The tunnel being built was part of the Chardham all-weather route, which will connect several Hindu pilgrimage sites.
Some experts believe the project, a federal government flagship endeavour, may exacerbate delicate circumstances in the high Himalayas, where several cities are constructed on landslip debris.
The number of pilgrims and visitors visiting Uttarakhand’s many Hindu temples has increased throughout the years due to the ongoing construction of buildings and roadways.