Uttarkashi (Uttarakhand) [India] : The ongoing drilling work to reach the 40 trapped workers inside the Silkyara tunnel was halted on Saturday after the rescuers bored 25 metres into the rubble, a top official said.
The workers have been trapped for six days, counting Saturday, after a portion of the under-construction Silkyara tunnel caved in on November 12.
Anshu Manish Khulko, director of the tunnel-making company, NHIDCL, said the drilling work to reach the trapped workers is suspended for now.
Asked if the drilling work was stopped due to a snag in the machine being used in the rescue operation, Khulko added, ‘There was no fault in the machine.’
‘The work on enabling the insertion of a pipeline to extricate the trapped workers had been ongoing over the last three days. Only 25 metres of the pipe-laying work has been completed so far,’ he informed.
He also said the managing director of NHIDCL is expected to reach the incident site on Saturday and will share further details after taking stock of the ongoing rescue work.
On Friday, the Auger machine engaged in the drilling work stopped functioning after it hit a rock face. However, the machine started working again in the afternoon.
Another heavy-duty drilling machine requisitioned from Indore in Madhya Pradesh is likely to reach the tunnel site later on Saturday.
The under-construction tunnel between Silkyara and Dandalgaon on the Brahmakhal-Yamunotri national highway collapsed in the early hours of November 12.
In a statement released to media on Friday, the National Highways & Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited, the firm building the tunnel, said excavation with shotcreting (concrete spraying) for 40 metres of the collapsed tunnel is under progress and a cavity has been formed 10 metre above the crown at both left and right side, and a chimney formation has started along the tunnel.
An additional shotcrete machine has been shifted from RVNL Package-lll to work site, the statement added.
The 4531-metre Silkyara Tunnel is part of the Chardham Project of Ministry of Road Transport and Highways and will link the Gangotri and Yamunotri axis under the Radi pass area.
The tunnel is being constructed by NHIDCL through Navayuga Engineering Company Ltd at a cost of Rs 853.79 crore.