18 Nov 2023

Uttarakhand Tunnel Collapse: We have reached limit of our patience, say families of those trapped


Their voices are fading, their strength diminishing, as those maintaining vigil outside the Silkyara tunnel in Uttarkashi reported on Saturday after conversing with their relatives trapped inside for seven days – and the count continues.

The tunnel, still under construction on the Char Dham route, collapsed on Sunday morning with 41 laborers inside.

As time passes, the anxiety of families waiting outside is intensifying. The suspension of rescue operations since Friday has only heightened the distress. The rescue operations were halted when a US-made auger machine used for drilling and inserting pipes through the rubble to create an escape passage for the workers encountered a malfunction. 


Health of the men inside the dark tunnel is deteriorating

The health of the men inside the dark tunnel is deteriorating, and their families at home are growing increasingly anxious, according to Haridwar Sharma. His younger brother, Sushil, is among those trapped in the tunnel.

"We are only receiving assurances from authorities about the rescue of the trapped laborers. It's been almost a week," Sharma, hailing from Bihar's Rohtas district, told.

"There is no activity inside the tunnel. Neither the company nor the government is taking any action. The company claims a machine is on the way," he added tearfully.

His voice sounded feeble, says anxious relative

Among those anxiously waiting is the family of Gabbar Singh Negi. Negi is trapped inside the tunnel. His two brothers, Maharaj Singh and Prem Singh, along with his son Akash Singh, have been waiting outside for any positive news.

Maharaj mentioned that he spoke to Gabbar through a pipe supplying oxygen, and his voice sounded feeble.

"I could barely talk to my brother. His voice was very weak. He was hardly audible. Rescue work in the tunnel has come to a standstill. Those trapped are also running out of food and water. We have reached the end of our patience. What more can I say?" Maharaj expressed.

Their brother Prem stated that the trapped workers are starting to lose hope.

"Gabbar said he is okay, but his voice is weaker now. They are getting light edibles like chana, kheer, and badam. How long can they sustain on this? Work has been halted for 30-32 hours inside the tunnel," Prem explained.

'They cannot evacuate our people trapped for around a week'

"India has gone digital. They talk about the success of India's Chandrayan mission, but they cannot evacuate our people trapped for around a week," Prem said.

Gabbar's son Akash Singh echoed his uncles.

"His voice was low. Although he said he was okay so that we don't get worried. His low voice said it all. No work is going on inside the tunnel. There are no engineers inside; only people who send food and water through a pipe to the trapped workers from time to time are there," Akash said.

Drilling machine airlifted from Indore has arrived at Dehradun

As anxiety levels rise, officials at the scene reported that a high-performance drilling machine airlifted from Indore has arrived at Dehradun's Jollygrant airport in Uttarkashi and is being transported by road to Silkyara. There, it will be unloaded, assembled, and then deployed for drilling.

When the operation was halted on Friday afternoon, the heavy-duty auger machine had drilled up to 24 meters through the rubble spread over around a 60-meter area inside the tunnel.

Loud cracking sound caused panic

Around 2:45 pm on Friday, during the positioning of a fifth pipe, a loud cracking sound was heard in the tunnel, leading to the immediate suspension of the rescue operation, as stated by the National Highways & Infrastructure Development Corporation (NHIDCL), the company responsible for the tunnel's construction. 

The sound caused panic among the rescue team, and an expert involved in the project warned about the possibility of further collapse in the vicinity. Consequently, the pipe-pushing activity was halted.

No comments:

Post a Comment