Uttarkashi Tunnel Collapse: Forty personnel are trapped in the Uttarkashi tunnel; rescue efforts were temporarily suspended on Friday afternoon after more debris fell in the direction of the drilling equipment. Debris began to fall towards the side of the machine as the fifth tube was being inserted into the tunnel. The rescue crews were hurried out of the tunnel, and the activity ceased for about sixty minutes. There had also been similar falls of debris earlier in the day. The rescue efforts will probably be further delayed as a result.
Five Pipes Successfully Inserted
With five pipes, each measuring 900 mm in diameter and 6 metres in length, fully inserted into the rubble, the rescue crews made great progress over the course of the night in their continuous effort to release the forty workers trapped inside the Silkyara Tunnel. But the drilling was momentarily stopped due to the hard material found among the rubble.
Successful Blockage Removal with Diamond-Bit Equipment
After the blockage was removed with the aid of diamond-bit equipment, drilling immediately started up again. As of Friday morning at six in the morning, the sophisticated auger drilling equipment had penetrated 25 metres of the tunnel’s accumulated debris, according to the Silkyara Control Room of the Emergency Operation Centre. To get to the stranded workers, officials estimated that another 30 to 40 metres of debris needed to be removed. They said that in order to save the workers as soon as possible, the auger machine was operating at maximum capacity.
Positive Update from NHIDCL Director Anshu Manish Halko
Anshu Manish Halko, director of National Highways & Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited, reported that the drilling work was going well. “We are trying to reach the end soon. We are airlifting another machine from Indore which will reach us by tomorrow morning. Auger digging is a quick process but refilling pipes is crucial, which is time-consuming,” said Halko. Rescuers intended to finish drilling by Friday night and construct an escape tunnel made of pipes that were welded together, according to disaster management official Devendra Patwal, who spoke with the Associated Press.
Introduction of High-Performance Auger Drilling Machine
The 24 tonne high-performance auger drilling machine was brought in to expedite rescue operations following the collapse of the under-construction tunnel due to a landslip. To reach the trapped workers, officials anticipate that digging will need to go another 45 to 60 metres. With a remarkable penetration rate of 5 metres per hour, the machine outperforms the previous model in terms of capacity.