23 Nov 2023

Uttarakhand Tunnel Rescue: Auger machine drilling through rubble experiencing some difficulties again but expert optimistic


International expert Arnold Dix on Thursday evening said the American auger machine drilling through the rubble of the collapsed Silkyara tunnel in Uttarakhand is experiencing "some difficulties' again.

He said this just hours after drilling to evacuate 41 trapped workers resumed, following a six-hour setback Wednesday night as the machine encountered an iron girdle.

It was cut by experts, working in a confined environment, before drilling resumed Thursday.

Earlier, drilling was put on hold from Friday afternoon to Tuesday night when the machine encountered a hurdle.

"Right now the auger machine is experiencing some difficulties, for the third time,' Dix said.

"We have seen this happen before," he reminded.

He did not elaborate on the nature of "difficulties' this time, and it was not immediately clear that this will lead to any major delay in the rescue operation that has entered its 12th day.

However, he remained optimistic about the success of the rescue effort.

He said the work was going on in a cautious manner, as it should.

Dix, who heads an international consortium of experts in tunnelling, is in Silkyara to offer advice.


Not fair to speculate on timeline for rescue operations


Earlier, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) member Lt Gen (retd) Syed Ata Hasnain said on Thursday evening that the 41 trapped workers are likely to be rescued in the next few hours or by tomorrow (Friday). 


The drilling work to pull out 41 trapped workers encountered obstacles, which resulted in a temporary stoppage of rescue efforts.

"I expect that in the next few hours or by tomorrow, we will be successful in this operation," Hasnain said in a media briefing.

He also noted that it would not be fair to speculate on the timeline for rescue operations as it is just like fighting a war.

Hasnain further said that 41 ambulances, one each for trapped workers, are in place at the tunnel site, and also facilities are in place to airlift workers in serious condition.

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