23 Nov 2023

Uttarakhand Tunnel Rescue: 12 meters of excavation left but steel rods embedded in debris pose challenge

Efforts to save 41 workers in Uttarkashi Tunnel of Uttarakhand are now in the final phase.  As of midnight, rescue teams had said that about 10 metres of debris separates them from the trapped workers. But the drilling work has stopped currently because there are metals including the iron in the rubble and not just stones which cannot be drilled by the drilling machine. Experts, including welding experts, are on the spot.  

News is coming that during the ongoing drilling in the tunnel, an iron rod has come in between. For this reason the excavation has been stopped for the time being. Due to stoppage of excavation, the rescue operation is now expected to be delayed by a few hours.

According to the information received so far, the rescue team has completed drilling more than 67 percent of the tunnel from the entry point using the American auger machine. In such a situation, once the pipe comes out on the other side of the tunnel, only then will these workers be taken out.

The team found steel rods embedded in the debris which caused some hindrance in the drilling process, however, the officials said they will remove all the pieces of steel and carry out the final process to insert the last bit of pipeline through the rubble.

An ambulance is also deployed inside the tunnel and a team of doctors is also put on stand-by for health check-ups of the workers, it said.

Meanwhile, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) will undertake a safety audit of all 29 under-construction tunnels across the country to ensure safety and adherence to the highest quality standards, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways said on Wednesday.

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