Rescue operations in India continue for the seventh consecutive day as emergency response teams race against time to save 40 construction workers who have been trapped underground since Sunday. The workers became stranded when a section of the highway tunnel they were building collapsed in Uttarakhand, a northern state in India.
Despite the challenges posed by the fragile mountain terrain, rescue teams have been drilling incessantly using a high-powered machine to reach the trapped workers. However, concerns were raised about the stability of the surroundings and the possibility of more debris falling, complicating the rescue efforts.
In light of these concerns, Anshu Manish Khalkho, the director of the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited, announced a change in strategy. Khalkho explained, “We have decided to go with a pause-and-go approach to maintain the equilibrium.” This new approach aims to ensure the safety of both the workers and the rescue teams.
Videos shared on social media show a pause in rescue work, with no drilling activity reported overnight from Friday to Saturday. According to Khalkho, the rescue team has successfully drilled approximately 25 meters (82 feet) into the collapsed tunnel, which is about one-third of the distance to reach the trapped workers. However, there is still a significant stretch remaining that needs to be covered.
To facilitate the rescue mission, pipes designed specifically for this purpose have been inserted into approximately 25 meters (82 feet) of debris. These pipes, which are about 900 millimeters in diameter, are being interconnected and welded together. They will serve as an escape passage for the stranded workers, allowing them to move beyond the collapsed section of the tunnel.
Despite the apparent complexity of the undertaking, Khalkho emphasized the importance of considering the drilling vibrations’ impact on the fragile terrain. He also confirmed that the trapped workers are receiving essential supplies such as food, water, and oxygen through a smaller pipe. Communication is maintained via walkie-talkies, and medical assistance is being provided to those showing signs of illness.
In an effort to expedite the rescue operations, a backup drilling machine is being airlifted from Indore city in the central state of Madhya Pradesh. It will provide additional support and replace the initial drilling machine, which broke on Friday.
Uttarakhand’s Chief Minister, Pushkar Singh Dhami, expressed confidence in the ongoing rescue work, highlighting the relentless efforts of the engineers and experts from the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited. He also mentioned that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is closely monitoring the situation, with a special team from the Prime Minister’s office present at the site to assess the progress.
The collapsed tunnel is part of the prestigious Himalayan Char Dham Highway project, a significant infrastructure initiative by Prime Minister Modi to enhance connectivity in Uttarakhand and facilitate access to important pilgrimage sites.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
- Q: How long have the workers been trapped underground?
- Q: What caused the tunnel collapse in India?
- Q: How are the trapped workers being supplied with necessities?
- Q: How far have the rescue teams progressed?
- Q: Is there a backup plan in case the drilling machine breaks?
A: The workers have been trapped for a week since Sunday.
A: The tunnel collapse was triggered during the construction of the highway tunnel.
A: The workers are receiving food, water, and oxygen through a smaller pipe, and communication is maintained via walkie-talkies.
A: The rescue teams have drilled approximately 25 meters (82 feet) into the collapsed tunnel, around one-third of the distance to reach the trapped workers.
A: Yes, a backup drilling machine is being airlifted to replace the initial one that broke on Friday.