The ongoing rescue operation to extricate 40 construction workers trapped 260 meters inside the Silkyara-Barkot under-construction tunnel in Uttarkashi has entered its fifth day. The workers became stranded following a collapse of a section of the tunnel along the Yamunotri National Highway (NH) at approximately 5:30 am last Sunday.
Predominantly hailing from Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, Bihar, and West Bengal, the trapped individuals are awaiting rescue efforts to be successfully completed.In a bid to expedite the rescue operation, a state-of-the-art performance auger drilling machine was flown in from New Delhi via an Indian Air Force (IAF) C-130J aircraft on Wednesday. The machine has been deployed on Thursday morning, with National Highways & Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL) officials reporting a drilling progress of up to six meters.
However, uncertainties persist due to potential obstacles like boulders within the debris, making it challenging to predict a definitive timeline for the rescue. NHIDCL director Anshu Manish Khalko expressed optimism, stating that if drilling through 50-60 meters of debris is necessary, it could be completed in approximately 12 hours.
Union Minister of State of Road Transport and Highways, VK Singh, visited the site on Thursday, affirming that all government agencies are diligently working towards completing the rescue operation within the next two to three days. Singh mentioned the confined space where the laborers are trapped, approximately 2 kilometers within the debris.
To sustain them, officials are providing food, water, and oxygen through a pipe. Additionally, a makeshift health facility with ten ambulances and expert doctors has been established outside the tunnel for immediate medical care upon evacuation.