Rescuers explore alternative methods to reach trapped Indian workers

The operation to rescue 41 Indian workers trapped inside a tunnel in Uttarakhand state has faced a major delay, prompting authorities to explore new ways to reach them. The initial plan of drilling a hole horizontally through the rocks had to be halted when the drilling machine broke down. The workers have been stuck for two weeks following a tunnel collapse caused by a landslide. The challenging operation has been compounded by falling boulders, loose soil, and metal debris inside the tunnel.

Rescuers are now digging vertically into the tunnel to create an alternative route for the trapped men. Manual digging and other techniques are also being considered to expedite the rescue operation. The plan is to reach the workers from the top of the hill in Silkyara by drilling 86m downward, nearly double the distance of the horizontal route. As of Monday morning, rescuers had managed to dig 31m into the tunnel, with an estimated 100 hours left to complete the rescue if no further obstacles arise.

If all goes smoothly, the workers will be pulled out in buckets through the vertical hole. However, officials are concerned about the potential impact of bad weather, as thunderstorms and snowfall in the Himalayan region could complicate the process. Despite the challenges, authorities remain prepared to deal with such conditions.

Previously, multiple pipes were being used to create a micro-tunnel through the debris wall, enabling the workers to be wheeled out on stretchers. Now, an alternate route is being considered by drilling 180m perpendicular to the main site. A specially mounted platform for this drilling process was erected on Sunday. However, the current status of this operation has not been disclosed.

Following the breakdown of the auger machine on Friday, which occurred when rescuers had already drilled 34m horizontally, manual removal of the remaining debris will be undertaken. Meanwhile, a drilling machine will continue to assist in pushing pipes into the opening.

The rescue efforts have gained international attention, with BBC News India even starting a YouTube channel to provide updates and coverage on the situation.

As the rescue operation continues, the families of the trapped workers endure an agonizing wait for their loved ones to be brought to safety. The authorities are committed to using all available resources and expertise to ensure the successful extraction of the workers. The coming days will be crucial for the ongoing rescue efforts as the workers’ safety remains the top priority.