Uttarakhand tunnel collapse: Rescue ops enter Day 3, May take 2 more days to rescue 40 trapped labourers; govt constitutes expert panel to probe the incident

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  • Approximately 40 workers are trapped in a tunnel in Uttarkashi, Uttarakhand. Rescue operations face delays due to a collapse during reprofiling.  
  • Stabilisation efforts and innovative techniques are underway. 
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi took stock of the rescue operation last night over a phone call with Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami. 
  • The operation entered day three today as the workers remain trapped under the debris of the under-construction tunnel that collapsed on Sunday morning. 

In Uttarkashi, Uttarakhand, approximately 40 workers have been trapped for over 24 hours inside an under-construction tunnel. Ranjit Kumar Sinha, the Secretary of Disaster Management, estimated that it might take an additional two days to rescue them. Here are key points in this developing story.

Officials have removed around 20 meters of the slab blocking the tunnel, and a 35-metre passage is yet to be cleared. The workers were engaged in reprofiling, altering the structure’s shape, nearly 265 meters inside the tunnel when a collapse occurred, trapping them.

Rescue operations commenced promptly, focusing on ensuring a continuous supply of food and oxygen to the trapped workers. Essential provisions, including medicines, food, water, electricity, and oxygen, were delivered through pipes. Walkie-talkies were employed for effective communication between the rescue teams and the trapped workers.

Preliminary reports attribute the collapse to a landslide in the region.

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami mentioned loose soil as a factor causing debris to fall, resulting in delays in rescue operations. Efforts to stabilize loose debris hindering rescue operations are underway.

Excavation with shotcreting, a method involving spraying concrete at high velocity over a structure, has commenced for the collapsed tunnel’s initial 40 meters. Teams are planning to use a hydraulic jack to push a 900 mm diameter pipe through the debris, creating a passageway for the trapped workers.

Trucks loaded with 900 mm diameter pipes have been brought to the spot to conduct further operations. Amid the ongoing efforts to safely rescue the trapped people, the Pushkar Singh Dhami government has constituted a six-member expert committee to investigate the tunnel collapse incident.

The government said that a platform is being prepared for the auger machine for horizontal drilling to rescue the trapped labourers by inserting large-diameter MS pipes in the part of the Silkyara tunnel blocked by subsidence.

All necessary materials and machinery for this operation are being mobilized, with experts from the irrigation department joining the efforts.

The 4.5 km-long tunnel connects Silkyara to the Gangotri-Yamnotri axis and is part of the Chardham Mahamarg Pariyojana initiated by the central government.

The trapped workers are reportedly in a 400-meter buffer zone within the tunnel, and their safety is being closely monitored.

(With inputs from agencies)

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