Almora: A determined rescue operation is in progress to save 40 workers stranded inside a tunnel in Uttarakhand for more than 48 hours. Since the collapse early Sunday morning, rescue teams have been working tirelessly to clear the massive rocks that engulfed a 200-meter stretch, blocking the exit for the trapped workers.
Despite continuous efforts, progress has been slow in cutting through the debris. Rescuers aim to create a 40-meter escape passage, with approximately 21 meters of the slab obstructing the tunnel already removed, leaving a 19-meter section to be cleared. The strategy involves pushing pipes with a 900 mm diameter through the debris, creating a pathway for the trapped workers to navigate.
Preparations are underway for an auger machine to drill horizontally and facilitate the insertion of pipes through the rubble. All necessary equipment and machinery for this intricate operation have been transported to the site, with experts from the irrigation department lending their expertise.
Videos from the scene depict substantial piles of concrete obstructing the tunnel, with twisted metal bars complicating the rescue efforts. Most of the workers are migrants from Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Odisha, Uttarakhand, and Himachal Pradesh, facing a perilous situation after the under-construction structure on the Brahmakhal-Yamunotri National Highway collapsed.
The workers, currently in a buffer zone, remain unharmed and are receiving food and oxygen through water pipelines. Authorities assure they have approximately 400 meters to walk and breathe within this buffer zone. Successful communication has been established with the trapped workers using Walkie-Talkies, initially facilitated by a note and later through radio handsets.
The 4.5-kilometer tunnel, part of the Chardham project connecting Silkyara and Dandalgaon in Uttarkashi, collapsed due to what is suspected to be a landslide. An ongoing investigation seeks to determine the exact cause of the collapse. The completion of this tunnel is crucial for the Chardham project, promising to reduce the distance by 26 kilometers once finished.