Uttarkashi Tunnel: First glimpses of rescued workers soon after ‘rat-mining’ takes pipe to destination

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Ground reports said that the pipe has reached the place inside the collapsed tunnel where the 41 workers are trapped.

Pix credit X Pushkar Singh Dhami

Pix credit X Pushkar Singh Dhami

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By Our Special Correspondent

New Delhi, November 28: The 41 trapped workers can come out of the collapsed Silkyara Tunnel anytime, said officials, while underlining that the operation may still take hours. Each worker will take 4-5 minutes to exit the tunnel, said Syed Atta Hasnain, head of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) on Tuesday evening.

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami posted on X that the final rescue operation to take out the trapped workers has started after the pipe reached the trapped personnel in the collapsed tunnel. He spoke with the trapped workers.

Hasnain, while briefing the media, said that even while the ‘rate-mining’ strategy has worked with debris removed other options still continue, which includes vertical drilling. The Chinook helicopter, stationed at the tunnel site, had the deadline to fly back of 4.30 PM, which has been missed as the efforts still continue to clean the path for the workers to come out safely. The workers will have to stay at the makeshift medical facility at the site while major arrangements have been made for the 41 trapped men in the tunnel.

A dozen workers were pressed into action in two teams of six each to push the ‘rat-mining’ strategy to clear the debris. Rat-mining used to be employed in coal mining, but had been banned for the risks associated with the activity. Union Minister Gen. (Retd.) V K Singh was overseeing the rescue operation, which also involved the personnel of the Indian Army. Multi-agency efforts still continue to work on several operation employed to reach the trapped workers. The agencies such as Rail Vikas Nigam Limited, ONGC, National Highway Development Corporation, SJVNL, and others continue to work on tasks assigned to them.

Officials said that 45-metre of vertical drilling has also been achieved. Teams consisting of national and international experts are overseeing the rescue operation. Prof. Arnold Dix, who had been camping at Silkyara Tunnel site since November 20, oversaw the rescue operation.

Ground reports said that the pipe has reached the place inside the collapsed tunnel where the 41 workers are trapped. The NDRF personnel have taken position with necessary equipment to facilitate the eventual exit of the trapped workers one by one. The whole operation is expected to take about four hours, Hasnain told reporters earlier.

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