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‘We are safe’: Labourer trapped inside collapsed Uttarkashi tunnel speaks to son confirming safety of 40 men, SDRF plans to rescue them using 900 mm pipes

While the initial contact was made through a note on a piece of paper, the rescuers later succeeded in establishing a connection using radio handsets.

The SDRF is leading efforts to rescue 40 workers trapped inside the Silkyara-Barkot tunnel in Uttarakhand’s Uttarkashi. Amid the rescue efforts, on 14th November, one of the trapped workers, Gabbar Singh Negi, spoke to his son, confirming their safety.

Speaking to the news agency PTI, Negi’s son Akash said, “I was allowed to speak to my father for a few seconds using the pipe through which oxygen is being supplied to the stranded workers.”

“He said they were safe. He asked us not to worry as the company is with them,” Akash added. Akash was also accompanied by his uncle Maharaj Singh Negi at the accident site when he spoke to his father.

Rescue teams have effectively established communication with the workers using Walkie-Talkies. While the initial contact was made through a note on a piece of paper, the rescuers later succeeded in establishing a connection using radio handsets.

According to Maharaj Singh Negi, he convinced the policemen who were initially reluctant to let them talk with those trapped inside. Negi added that when he convinced the inspector that hearing from a relative would comfort the stranded labourers as well as the concerned family members, and strengthen their hope for a safe rescue, the policeman relented and he sent Akash to speak to his father. 

Maharaj Singh Negi added that the authorities told him not to worry as the tunnel was unclogged. They added that it is empty 2 kms beyond the point where the labourers are trapped. 

The officials said, “A part of the tunnel being built between Silkyara and Dandalgaon on the Brahmakhal-Yamunotri National Highway caved in on Sunday morning (12th November) following a landslide.”

Meanwhile, the officials added that rescue workers on Tuesday (14th November) began the process of inserting wide steel pipes through the rubble of the collapsed under-construction tunnel on the Chardham route to bring out the 40 labourers trapped inside for two days now.

The rescue plan involves pushing through 900-mm diameter sections of mild steel pipes one after the other into the debris using drilling equipment. The width is wide enough for the trapped men to squeeze through, by boring a hole into the heap of debris. 

(The 900 mm wide pipes will facilitate the construction of a passageway for rescuing the trapped workers from the tunnel, Image Source – India Today)

The aim is to establish an escape passage for the workers. Officials have ensured that the workers are secure and receiving essential supplies such as oxygen, water, food packets, and medicines through tubes. 

A Disaster response official said, “They have a buffer of around 400 metres to walk and breathe.” 

Efforts are underway to construct an escape route to reach the workers who are trapped, and the distance is approximately 40 meters. According to officials, they have successfully removed around 21 meters of the slab blocking the tunnel, but there is still a 19-meter passage that needs to be cleared.

(Graphic version of details of Rescue operation, Credits – India Today)

The officials said that a platform is being prepared for an auger machine to drill horizontally, and push the pipes through the debris and evacuate the workers. 

All essential material and machinery required for the daring operation has been transported to the site. Additionally, experts from the irrigation department are now actively participating in the operation.

The 4.5-km tunnel located on the Brahmakhal-Yamunotri National Highway, connecting Silkyara and Dandalgaon in Uttarkashi, constitutes a significant segment of the Chardham project. Once completed, it would reduce the distance by 26 kms.

Initial reports indicate that a landslide in the area may have caused the collapse, however, officials state that an investigation is underway to determine the precise cause of the incident.

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
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