Progress in Uttarkashi Tunnel Rescue as Platform Strengthened for Evacuation

Thirteen days after the collapse of an under-construction tunnel at Silkyara in Uttarkashi, significant progress has been made in the rescue operation to evacuate 41 trapped workers. A 25-tonne platform, supporting the Heavy American Auger machine used for drilling through debris, has been reinforced using an accelerating agent for concrete hardening, signaling a resumption of rescue operations shortly.

During Thursday’s rescue operation, the platform developed cracks, causing a temporary pause in the horizontal drilling through debris. According to the official bulletin, the 9th pipe pushing commenced at 1:10 am on Friday, advancing an additional 1.8 meters. However, minor vibrations were noted, leading to the discovery of a bent part of the forepole (pipe) from the tunnel lining causing obstruction.

To address this, the platform for the auger machine was strengthened with an accelerating agent for rapid concrete hardening. The bulletin reported that the welder’s team is working to cut the bent pipe, with auger reassembly expected to start shortly thereafter.

To facilitate the safe passage of workers for pipe pushing activities, an escape passage using concrete culvert blocks, hume pipes, and steel pipes for a length of 67 meters has been completed. The trapped workers remain safe, and a modified communication system with wire connectivity ensures regular communication with them.

The State Disaster Response Force has developed a communication system, and the trapped workers have reported their safety. Food and fresh fruits are regularly provided through the tunnel, using the 2nd lifeline service (150 mm dia pipe).

A second service lifeline (food pipe, 150 mm) has been extended to a distance of 12 meters to enhance stability and safety. The last food consignment was sent on Thursday, consisting of roti (200 nos), Dal (12 litres), and mixed vegetables.

On November 12, a section of the under-construction tunnel from Silkyara to Barkot collapsed, trapping 41 laborers inside. The workers are confined in a 2 km-built portion, which is structurally complete, ensuring their safety during the ongoing rescue efforts.

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