Rescue work to save 41 workers trapped in a tunnel in India’s Uttarakhand state has been delayed by at least four to five days because the drilling machine broke down inside the tunnel.
After removing the faulty section, the rescuers will start manual digging. Due to a part of the tunnel collapsing due to soil erosion, laborers have been trapped inside the tunnel for two weeks.
The presence of rocks, stones, and metal inside the tunnel makes the rescue operation challenging.
Rescuers have to rely on hand drilling because the mixed metal fragments with the tunnel debris get stuck, and it is said that switching to manual drilling is better than waiting for the replacement machine.
Arnold Dix, a tunnel specialist assisting in the rescue operation, told reporters at the site, ‘The machine is broken. It’s unavoidable. It’s stuck.’
But Mr. Dix said he is confident that 41 people will return home; there were “many ways” to reach them. A part of the Silkyara tunnel in the Indian Himalayas collapsed on November 12, around 4.5 km (3 miles) inside.
Immediately after that, contact was established with the trapped people, and since then, they have been receiving oxygen, food, and water.
Before the berm broke, rescue workers were only 9 meters (30 feet) away from reaching the trapped laborers. Puskar Singh Dhami, the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand state, told reporters on Saturday that the damaged drilling machine would be removed by Sunday morning, allowing the rescue team to continue manual digging.
Mr. Dhami told reporters that he had spoken to the trapped people, “They are in good spirits. They said, ‘Take as much time as you need, don’t worry about us.'”
Meanwhile, an ambulance is on standby outside the tunnel. Officials say its purpose is to safely bring out the workers and transport them to the nearest hospital as quickly as possible.
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