Uttarakhand: Vertical drilling of Uttarkashi tunnel begins to rescue 41 trapped workers

The vertical drilling of the Uttarkashi tunnel has commenced to rescue the 41 workers trapped inside the rubble. The vertical drilling to rescue the 41 workers trapped inside Uttarkashi’s Silkyara tunnel began on Sunday afternoon, on the 15th day of the structure collapse in Uttarakhand, reported news agency ANI. The development comes even as a plasma cutter was flown in from Hyderabad on Sunday to cut and remove parts of the auger machine stuck in the rubble inside the Silkyara tunnel.


A complete disengagement of the machine is necessary for the officials to resume the rescue work which involves manual pushing of pipes through rubble to prepare an escape passage. A part of a drill machine has also been sent atop the hill, above the tunnel, for the vertical drilling.

The American auger machine, which started its horizontal drilling, hit a metallic grinder in the rubble of the collapsed rubble and broke down, putting a halt to the rescue operations for the third time in 15 days.

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami said that a plasma machine from Hyderabad was shipped in, and has started cutting out the pieces of the auger to advance the rescue operations.

The vertical drilling machine had arrived at Silkyara on Saturday evening, and was prepared overnight to commence the drilling on Sunday morning.

The Indian Army has also joined in the rescue operations of the central and state agencies, helping out to remove the plates of the auger from the rubble of the tunnel so that drilling can continue without any obstructions.

Further, the authorities have also said that manual drilling options is being explored as the last resort for the rescue of the 41 trapped workers. Manual drilling, however, will take over 18 hours to cut through 10-15 meters of the tunnel.

The Indian Air Force on Sunday flew in ‘critical DRDO equipment’ in an effort to accelerate the rescue of 41 workers, who are trapped inside the collapsed portion of the under-construction Silkyara tunnel in Uttarkashi for over two weeks now, the IAF informed through an official release.

Uttarakhand tunnel collapse: What happened?
On November 12, a portion of the under construction Silkyara-Barkot tunnel collapsed in the Uttarkashi district at around 5 am in the morning, trapping 41 workers inside the rubble.

The tunnel was being constructed as part of the Char Dham road project. Rescue operations to retrieve the 41 trapped workers commenced immediately, with state and central agencies joining in to advance the speed of the operation.

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