As rescue efforts continue for 40 workers trapped in Uttarakhand’s Silkyara Tunnel, the Indian Air Force (IAF) is again in action as it airlifted around 22 tonnes of critical equipment from Indore to Dehradun via C-17 transport aircraft , PTI reported. Despite initial momentum, drilling work within the tunnel came to a halt on Saturday. Anshu Manish Khulko, director of NHIDCL (the tunneling company) told ANI that there is a hindrance in drilling. However, Khulko clarified that this was not due to any fault in the machine. Reports suggest that drilling was stopped after workers heard ‘cracking’ sounds and encountered a technical glitch.
#Watch , Uttarakhand: Uttarkashi Tunnel Rescue | Morning views from the scene; Relief and rescue operations stopped at Silkyara Tunnel
Anshu Manish Khulko, director of the tunneling company NHIDCL, while talking to ANI, said that at present the drilling work in the tunnel has been stopped.… pic.twitter.com/ZhNAsdAtRX
– ANI (@ANI) 18 November 2023
Rescue teams painstakingly dug out 24 meters of debris in the Silkyara tunnel by Friday afternoon, gradually getting closer to the trapped workers who had been in distress for almost a week.
“The Indian Air Force continues its operations to assist in the ongoing tunnel rescue in Dharasu, Uttarakhand. Deployed an IAF C-17 to airlift approximately 22 tonnes of critical equipment from Indore to Dehradun,” the Indian Air Force posted. #FirstResponders #HADRops,” IAF posted on Twitter.
The Indian Air Force has continued its operation to assist in the ongoing tunnel rescue in Dharasu, Uttarakhand.
– Indian Air Force (@IAF_MCC) 17 November 2023
Earlier in the week, the Indian Air Force faced challenges during the rescue operation near Uttarkashi, hit by equipment failure, which hampered route construction.
In a time-sensitive response, the IAF rapidly launched a special operation using a C-130J Super Hercules to deliver essential equipment close to the tunnel. The operation, which was carried out within five hours, strategically used the Dharasu ALG at Chinyalisaur, an airstrip located about 30 km from the rescue site, at an altitude of 3,000 feet above sea level, PTI reported. With a nominal length of 3,600 feet.
Collaborating with the civil administration and the Border Roads Organization (BRO), the Indian Air Force carefully planned and executed this important mission. Initial assessment via IAF helicopter ensured operational feasibility before launching the final mission.
Despite previous assessments deeming the Dharasu ALG unfit for routine operations, the Indian Air Force took the decisive call to activate it for this critical mission. According to PTI, before the final operation, the IAF helicopter with a C-130J pilot conducted several assessments to ascertain the runway conditions and determine the most viable approach for evacuation.
Overcoming challenges such as limited visibility, lifting heavy loads on restricted runways and unloading within confined spaces, the Indian Air Force successfully transported 27.5 tonnes of critical rescue equipment to a remote airstrip. To facilitate unloading from the C130J aircraft, a temporary earthen ramp was quickly constructed, preventing delays in subsequent rescue operations.