Uttarkashi: With just three metres left to achieve a breakthrough in digging through the rubble of the Silkyara tunnel that partially collapsed on Nov. 12, preparations have been made to rush 41 trapped workers to hospital for immediate medical care.
A separate ward comprising 41 oxygen-supported beds have been readied at the Community Health Centre in Chinyalisaur, about 30 km from Silkyara, for the treatment of rescued workers. The road outside the tunnel, which became uneven due to regular movement of heavy vehicles over the past fortnight is being repaired and a fresh layer of soil laid for the smooth movement of ambulances.
A team of 24 seasoned “rat-hole mining” experts are involved in the manual drilling process and excavate a narrow passageway toward the trapped workers. This time-consuming task will involve removing debris and creating a safe route for the rescue operation. The workers are just three metres away from the rescue team.
Pipes have been inserted up to 52 metres through the rubble at Silkyara tunnel, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami said this morning even as efforts to rescue the 41 workers trapped there continued for 17th consecutive day. The breakthrough point is 57 metres, he told reporters in Silkyara. Rescuers need to dig through around 10 metres of rubble deploying rat-hole mining technique to bring out the workers. Similar drilling was earlier carried out by a huge auger machine that got stuck in the rubble on Friday at around 47 metres. A skilled team of workers began removing the muck by hand using the rat-hole mining technique on Monday while 800-mm diameter pipes were being pushed through the rubble by an auger machine.
“Pipe has gone in up to 52 metres. Earlier, it was at 51 metres. It was pushed one metre further in my presence. It will be pushed two metres more to 54 metres after which one more pipe will be laid,” Dhami said.