Uttarakhand Tunnel Collapse: Race Against Time as Rescue Efforts Intensify for 41 Trapped Workers
Uttarkashi: International Tunnelling and Underground Space Association president Arnold Dix near the site after a portion of an under-construction tunnel between Silkyara and Dandalgaon on the Brahmakhal-Yamunotri national highway collapsed, in Uttarkashi district, Monday, Nov. 20, 2023. (PTI Photo)
New Delhi: In Uttarakhand, rescue teams are engaged in a race against time to extract 41 construction workers who have been trapped beneath debris for more than 170 hours due to a tunnel collapse. The extended period of confinement within the tunnel is giving rise to significant concerns regarding the health and well-being of the trapped workers.
In a desperate bid to rescue the 41 workers, a high-performance drilling machine from Madhya Pradesh's Indore reached the site, initiating vertical drilling efforts last evening.
Bhaskar Khulbe, former advisor to the Prime Minister, revealed, "The experts were one in their view that rather than working on just one plan, we should work at the same time on five plans to reach the trapped workers as early as possible."
According to NDTV, Khulbe expressed optimism, stating, "The workers are likely to be rescued in four to five days with concerted efforts of the agencies. But if the gods are kind enough, it could happen even earlier than that."
Union Minister Nitin Gadkari and Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami visited the accident site today to review the ongoing rescue and relief operation. CM Dhami stated, "We are working on all the possibilities available. All types of expert teams are working here."
Drilling efforts faced an abrupt halt on Friday evening after officials heard a sudden "cracking sound" emanating from the machine, adding an additional layer of complexity to the already challenging rescue operation.
In a high-level meeting held by the Centre, five rescue options were discussed, with various agencies assigned specific alternatives to expedite the operation. MD Mahmood Ahmed has been appointed in charge of coordination with all central agencies involved in the rescue mission.
Families of the trapped workers are facing an agonising wait outside the tunnel. Speaking to NDTV, they revealed their voices are getting weaker, and their strength is seemingly dimming.
Highlighting the need for comprehensive rehabilitation, doctors fear that the prolonged confinement may necessitate both mental and physical recovery processes for the trapped workers.
The under-construction tunnel is a crucial part of the Char Dham project, a national infrastructure initiative aimed at enhancing connectivity to the Hindu pilgrimage sites of Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri.
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