With the clock ticking, officials have begun efforts to drill a vertical hole from the hilltop below which 41 workers have been trapped inside the collapsed tunnel for seven days. News agency PTI reported that the Border Roads Organization (BRO) is working round the clock to create an alternative route to the under-construction Silkyara tunnel with a view to restarting the rescue operations. The frustration of families waiting outside increased after rescue operations were halted on Friday due to a malfunction in the drilling machine.
- The rescue team started the work of laying pipes inside the tunnel. The work of laying six inch diameter pipe has started.
- A high-performance drilling machine brought from Indore is being assembled to drill holes in the debris and resume drilling for the escape route.
“This track is about 1,000-1,100 meters long. Also, we are conducting a survey. As per our calculations, the track should be ready by tomorrow afternoon,” said BRO Major Naman Narula, expressing hope.
- Officials are considering several options, including building a vertical track over the tunnel and drilling holes for essential items and possible evacuation. PTI reported that four machines are currently deployed, with four more on the way.
- Officials, including a team from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), are working on five rescue plans simultaneously. These include drilling from both ends, vertical drilling from the top of the tunnel and vertical drilling.
- Families of stranded workers are expressing growing frustration as rescue operations remain suspended since Friday due to technical problems. Their wait continues as the stranded workers are reportedly running short of food and water.
The family of worker Gabbar Singh Negi shared their disappointment, saying, “Rescue work in the tunnel has come to a halt. The trapped people are also short of food and water. Our patience has reached its limit”, as reported by PTI Is quoted.
“The health condition of the men is worsening, and the family back home is increasingly panicking,” said Haridwar Sharma, whose brother is among those trapped. “We are only getting assurances. It’s been almost a week,” he said.
- ONGC, RVNL, Satluj Jal Vikas Nigam Limited, BRO and state PWD are coordinating efforts to establish access to the stranded workers. Expressing hope, Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami said, “The state-of-the-art machines will be successful in saving the workers.”
The rescue operation was halted on Friday due to a crackling sound heard during pipe positioning, leading to it being suspended amid fears of more collapse. The number of stranded workers was revised from 40 to 41. Deepak Kumar from Bihar was identified as the 41st person trapped in the tunnel.
The Silkyara Tunnel, part of the Char Dham All Weather Road Project, collapsed last Sunday, leading to the current crisis. The tunnel is being constructed by the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL).