New Delhi: A foreign tunnel expert, Professor Arnold Dix, is on his way to India to assist in the rescue mission for 41 workers who have been trapped in a tunnel under construction in Uttarkashi, Uttarakhand for the last seven days. The rescue operation has been stalled due to technical glitches and falling debris. Professor Dix, who has experience in tunneling and hydroelectric projects, said he has a clear mission to safely evacuate the stranded workers.
The workers are trapped in the Silkyara Tunnel, which is part of a hydroelectric project in the Himalayan region. The tunnel collapsed on November 11, blocking the exit and trapping the workers inside. The rescue team has been trying to drill through the debris and insert pipes to reach the workers but has faced difficulties due to the rocky terrain and the vibration caused by the drilling. So far, only 24 meters of the 60-meter-long debris has been cleared.
The rescue team is using an American auger machine, which can drill up to 5 meters per hour. However, each drilling cycle takes about one and a half to two hours, as the pipe has to be fitted, aligned, and welded. The rescue team has also encountered a technical fault in the machine, which has slowed down the progress.
Professor Dix, who spoke to the onsite team and the news channel Aaj Tak, said he is going to explore alternative options for the rescue operation, which may include using traditional hand-dug tunnels. He said he is confident that he can bring the 41 workers home safely.
The Uttarakhand Police said that the workers are alive and well, and are being provided with food, water, and oxygen. They are also being allowed to talk to their family members regularly to boost their morale. The police have set up a help desk to update the family members about the rescue operation. The police have also sought foreign aid to expedite the rescue mission.