Rescuers hope bigger drill will reach 40 trapped in the tunnel; Protest breaks out by workers at the accident site

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  • A portion of the under-construction tunnel between Silkyara and Dandalgaon on the Yamunotri National Highway in Uttarkashi district collapsed due to a landslide early on Sunday. 
  • Relief and rescue operation is currently underway on a war where 40 labourers are trapped following the collapse of the under-construction tunnel.  
  • A protest by workers and their family members also broke out at the site of the accident where the rescue operation is still ongoing. 

Uttarkashi District Magistrate Abhishek Ruhela, State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) Commandant Manikant Mishra, Superintendent of Police Arpan Yaduvanshi, Chief Development Officer Gaurav Kumar, and many other officers were present at the spot and are playing their role in the rescue operation.

Uttarkashi Police’s CO Prashant Kumar, in a bid to bolster the trapped men’s spirits, yesterday made arrangements for some of them to talk to their families through this mechanism.  Meanwhile, the Uttarkashi police control room is keeping others’ families updated on the situation while food, water, and oxygen are being supplied to the trapped men.

Rescuers in north Indian mountains trying to reach 40 road workers trapped in a collapsed tunnel for more than three days will soon get help from a heavy drilling machine airlifted into the site, officials said on Wednesday.

The workers are safe and rescuers have been able to communicate with them and send them food, water, and oxygen through a pipe since the early Sunday collapse, but huge boulders have stymied efforts to dig an escape route for them. A high-powered augur drilling machine has been airlifted from New Delhi, about 400 km to the south, in the hope of drilling through the debris trapping the men.

The men were working on the Char Dham highway, one of the most ambitious projects of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, which aims to connect four pilgrimage sites in the mountains through 890 km (550 miles) of roads at a cost of $1.5 billion.

There were up to 60 men on the night shift in the 4.5-km (3-mile) tunnel when the tunnel collapsed before dawn. Men near the end of the tunnel managed to get out in time but the 40 trapped men were working deeper inside.

A news agency showed footage on Wednesday of about a dozen angry workers outside the tunnel calling for their colleagues to be rescued quickly.

India’s Himalayas are prone to landslides, earthquakes, and floods. Geologists, residents, and officials have blamed rapid construction for causing subsidence on slopes.

The road project has faced criticism from environmental experts and some work was halted after hundreds of houses were damaged by subsidence. Work on the tunnel began in 2018 and was initially meant to be finished by July 2022. It had been due to be completed in May next year, the government said in a statement before the collapse.

 

(With inputs from agencies)

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