21 Nov 2023

Uttarakhand Tunnel Collapse: Morning meal supplied to stranded workers first time in over a week

Uttarkashi: Rescuers achieved a significant milestone on Monday in Uttarkashi, successfully inserting a six-inch-wide pipeline through the debris of the collapsed Silkyara tunnel. This breakthrough is instrumental in supplying larger quantities of food and potentially facilitating live visuals of the 41 workers who have been trapped inside for eight days.

Anshu Manish Khalkho, the director of the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL), hailed it as the "first breakthrough," stating that the pipe has been extended 53 meters to the other side of the rubble, allowing communication with the trapped workers.

Rescuers are now packaging Khichdi in cylindrical bottles

Following the installation of an alternative six-inch lifeline pipe to the Silkyara tunnel, rescuers have packaged Khichdi in cylindrical bottles which is sent to the stranded workers. Hemant, the cook responsible for preparing the food, mentioned that it marks the first instance of sending a hot meal to the workers.

"This food will be sent inside the tunnel. This is the first time a hot meal is being sent. We are sending Khichdi. We are only preparing the food which we have been recommended," he explained.

The collapse of the under-construction tunnel occurred on November 12, trapping 41 laborers due to a muck falling in a 60-meter stretch on the Silkyara side of the tunnel.

Morning meal supplied to stranded workers

A morning meal was prepared for the workers on Tuesday. The food was pushed through the six-inch-wide pipeline that was pushed earlier on Monday through the rubble of the collapsed portion.

Teams of cooks are involved in the preparation of the breakfast for the trapped workers.

Speaking about the prepared food items, one of the cooks told that 'Aloo-Chana Dal' has been prepared, and 'Khichdi' and 'Daliya' are also among the options that will be sent as per the instructions given to them. He also said that they will also be making 'Puri' later on.

List of food options to be prepared with the help of doctors

Colonel Deepak Patil, the rescue operation in-charge, emphasized that the alternative lifeline allows the delivery of food, mobiles, and chargers inside the tunnel.

On what food items will be sent to trapped labourers, he said that, keeping in mind the condition of the labourers, a list has been prepared with the help of doctors on available food options.

Rescuers will now intensify efforts for the evacuation

The NHIDCL Director expressed joy among the trapped workers upon learning about the breakthrough and affirmed that the rescuers would now intensify efforts for the evacuation.

Additionally, two robotics machines from the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) have arrived at the site to assist in the rescue operation. 

International expert hails ongoing efforts

International tunnelling expert Arnold Dix, representing the Geneva-based International Tunnelling and Underground Space Association, commended the ongoing efforts.

"I have just been down in the tunnel. An enormous amount of work has been done there in preparation, and we are just coming up here at the top of the mountain to consider other options as well," Dix stated, highlighting the extraordinary progress.

Medical teams, a Prime Minister's Office team, and psychiatrists are actively involved in the operation, with the Uttarakhand government covering the expenses for the relatives of the trapped workers. The situation is under constant review to maintain the morale of the affected workers and their families.

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