The collapse of the under-construction tunnel from Silkyara to Barkot was caused by debris falling over a 60-mtr stretch

New Delhi: In Uttarkashi, Uttarakhand, efforts to rescue 41 workers trapped in a collapsed tunnel are expected to be successful by Thursday evening or Friday, according to officials.

The 4.5 km-long Silkyara tunnel collapsed on November 12, trapping laborers inside. On the 12th day of the rescue operation, the rescue team is close to reaching the trapped workers after successfully inserting an 800-meter-long pipe through the debris.

Officials have dug up to approximately 60 meters in the debris and inserted a pipe in hopes of extracting the workers. According to a government statement, the operation faced a setback when a metal girder was encountered, causing damage to the drilling machine and temporarily halting the efforts.

Several government agencies, including the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL), NTPC Limited, Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam (SJVNL), Tehri Hydro Development Corporation Limited (THDC), and Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL), are exploring ways to rescue the trapped workers. Equipment is being set up on the site for vertical rescue of the tunnel. Additionally, THDC has initiated a separate tunnel from Barkot side, and RVNL is arranging for micro-tunneling equipment for horizontal drilling.

A breakthrough was achieved on Monday when NHIDCL dug an additional pipeline for the supply of essential goods to the workers. Communication lines have also been established to enable direct contact with the trapped individuals.

The collapsed tunnel, under construction from Silkyara to Barkot, collapsed due to debris falling 60 meters away. The state and central governments have swiftly mobilized resources for the rescue of the workers. After modifying initial plans to use a 900mm pipe due to safety concerns, various rescue options are being considered. Some of the trapped workers are in a section of the tunnel that provides electricity and water alongside safety features.

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