Rescuers explore new options to save trapped workers in Uttarakhand tunnel collapse

Rescuers in India are actively searching for new ways to save 41 workers who have been trapped in a tunnel for the past eight days. After previous attempts to push in metal pipes through the debris wall resulted in a cracking sound and the withdrawal of rescue teams, officials have devised a plan to drill two parallel tunnels as a potential “escape route” for the trapped workers.

The tunnel collapse occurred in the morning of November 12th in the northern state of Uttarakhand, following a landslide. Since then, the trapped workers have been provided with oxygen, food, and water, and contact has been established with them. However, the rescuers have faced challenges in their attempts to reach the workers.

The latest rescue effort involves drilling two side tunnels next to the main tunnel. Initially, the rescuers had been drilling inwards from the mouth of the tunnel, but now they are also drilling from another side to reach the trapped workers. The complex terrain of the Himalayan region has made the rescue operations more difficult, but efforts are ongoing to overcome these challenges.

Federal Highways and Roads Minister Nitin Gadkari visited the site on Sunday and stated that the rescue operations could continue for “two to three days.” He explained that two auger drilling machines were being utilized, with the first machine encountering problems when it came into contact with rocks. However, these issues have been resolved by experts.

The families of the trapped workers have shown frustration and impatience, leading to an angry confrontation with the officials overseeing the rescue operations. To address their concerns, Prime Minister Narendra Modi reassured them that federal and state rescuers are working together seamlessly to save the workers. He emphasized the importance of keeping the morale of the stranded workers high.

The Silkyara tunnel, where the collapse occurred, is part of a government project aimed at improving transportation links between popular pilgrimage spots in Uttarakhand. The state is known for its numerous Hindu holy sites and is home to several Himalayan peaks and glaciers.

Rescue efforts are ongoing, and the drilling of the parallel tunnels offers a new ray of hope for the trapped workers. The Indian government, along with the authorities involved, is putting all efforts into the rescue operation, recognizing the urgency of the situation and the need to ensure the safety of the workers.