Boring machine hits snag in rescue operation of 40 workers trapped in Uttarakhand tunnel

Silkyara Tunnel

Uttarkashi: The fate of 40 workers trapped under the debris of the collapsed Silkyara Tunnel in Uttarkashi, Uttarakhand, remains uncertain as the rescue operation faced a major setback on Friday. The boring machine, which was drilling a path through the debris to reach the workers, encountered another machine and stopped working. The experts from Geophysical and Drinking Water Corporation have been called to resolve the issue.

The Silkyara Tunnel, which is part of the all-weather Chardham road project, caved in on Sunday morning, trapping 40 workers inside it. The workers are still alive and in contact with the rescue team through pipes. They have been provided with food, oxygen, electricity, water and medicines. They have also been able to talk to their families from time to time.

The rescue operation started on Tuesday night with a small auger machine, but it had to be stopped due to a landslide. The machine also broke down later. A large, modern, and powerful American auger machine weighing 25 tons was then airlifted from Delhi to Uttarkashi by the Indian Air Force. The machine resumed drilling on Thursday and penetrated 24 meters of debris by Friday morning, raising the hope that the workers would come out soon. However, the machine stopped after 24 meters as it hit another machine buried in the debris.

Silkyara Tunnel

The officials said that there is 45 to 60 meters of debris accumulated in the tunnel, which needs to be drilled to create an alternative tunnel for the workers to come out. A six-bed temporary hospital has been set up near the tunnel and several medical teams and ambulances are on standby to provide immediate medical help to the workers when they come out.