"Will come up with 'good news' in next 40 hrs if..." say officials as they attempt to reach labourers trapped in Uttarkashi tunnel

Nov 21, 2023

Uttarkashi (Uttarakhand) [India], November 21 : With the rescuers focusing on the 'horizontal drilling' method to evacuate 41 labourers trapped in the Silkyara tunnel, an official on Tuesday said that the time from tonight is the 'most crucial' and that if everything goes right, some 'good news' will come up in the next 40 hours.
Additional Secretary Technical, Road and Transport Mahmood Ahmed said that now 800 mm-diameter pipes are being pushed instead of 900 mm with the telescoping method.
"From this morning on, we started the process of horizontal drilling. Four 900-mm-diameter pipes of 6 metres each were pushed to 21-22 metres last week before they hit an obstacle. Now we have decided that we will lay an 800-mm-diameter pipe through the telescoping method. We have started that work. After that, we will do further drilling inside it with the American Auger machine. For us, the entire day until tomorrow from tonight on is most important," the official said.
As per the rescue plan earlier, the 900-mm pipes were to be pushed in using the horizontal drilling equipment to create an escape for the workers.
He said that out of the total 60-metre length of horizontal drilling from the Silkyara end, around 22-45 metres are rubble.
"Not only this, we are doing the horizontal drilling from the other (Barkot) side and the work has been assigned to Tehri Hydro Development Corporation Limited (THDC)," he added.
"If everything goes right, we will come up with some 'good news' in the next 40 hours," Ahmed said, addressing a press briefing.
The collapse occurred on November 12 during the construction of a tunnel from Silkyara to Barkot, trapping 41 labourers due to a muck fall in a 60-metre stretch on the Silkyara side of the tunnel.
The official assisting in the rescue operations on the site said that through the 6-inch pipeline, the additional lifeline that was laid yesterday, a walkie-talkie was sent inside and communication was established with the trapped men. "We also got a video showing that all of them are in good mental and physical health," he said.
The rescue team on Monday evening managed to lay a 6-inch pipe through which solid food and mobile chargers were sent inside the collapsed section of the Silkyara Tunnel.
Sitting on the presser, the Director of National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation (NHIDCL), Anshu Manish Khulko, said that Khichdi and Dalia, as recommended by doctors, could not be delivered yesterday as something was stuck on the 6-inch pipe. "But now we have cleaned the pipe," he said, adding that today fruits like oranges, bananas and medicines were sent to the trapped workers.