Fresh landslide hampers rescue mission at Uttarkashi tunnel

A fresh landslide on Tuesday obstructed ongoing efforts to insert steel pipes through the rubble of the collapsed tunnel to save 40 trapped laborers, who have been under the debris for two days.

The falling debris caused injuries to two rescue workers, prompting their immediate transfer to the makeshift hospital established at the site.

Even though the drilling process started at 10pm on Tuesday, however, the auger machine utilized initially failed to achieve the desired outcomes as it lacked the capability to navigate through the debris-laden terrain.

To cut through the debris, an alternative machine, the American Auger, has been requisitioned from Delhi. This advanced machinery boasts superior capabilities and is capable of drilling at a speed of 5 meters per hour.

The American auger is anticipated to arrive in Uttarkashi within the next few hours. Upon its arrival, an Indian Air Force C130 Hercules aircraft will land at an airstrip located approximately 30-35 kilometers away from the incident site.

Subsequently, the machinery will be loaded onto trucks and transported to the designated location.

To rescue the workers from the tunnel, 900 mm diameter steel pipes and drill and boring machines have reached the spot and work has begun to cut through the blockage. Uttarkashi DM Abhishek Rohilla says, “There was a demand for some pipes to carry out rescue operations. The demanded pipes have been provided, and an escape tunnel will be made to further carry out the rescue operation.”

Earlier, Rohilla had told reporters, “The rescue operation is ongoing. Efforts are being made to make a safe passage or a small tunnel with the help of a pipe. Material has been made available at the site. The platform is also being made for them. After that, the construction of the escape tunnel will also be started. Everyone is said to be safe. Food and water have been arranged for them. NHIDCL officials say that they have been able to establish continuous communication with them.”