At least 40 workers have been trapped underground for over 96 hours after a road tunnel they were building in Uttarakhand collapsed. Rescue efforts have been underway since Sunday morning, utilizing a range of drills and excavators to create an escape tunnel for the workers, who are all alive.
To ensure the trapped workers have access to oxygen and sustenance, steel pipes are being used to supply them with air and small food items.
In order to expedite the clearing of debris, heavy drilling equipment has been brought in from Delhi. This equipment is capable of removing approximately 5 meters of debris per hour. The drill, commonly used for creating boreholes in rock, soil, and other subsurface materials, serves as an efficient substitute for manual labor. Typically used for drilling holes ranging from 1 meter to 30 meters, the drill features a rotational blade called an auger, which is affixed to a drill stem. Three auger drills have already been set up in Uttarakhand, with three more to be deployed soon.
Officials are optimistic about safely rescuing the trapped workers. Uttarakhand District Magistrate Abhishek Rohilla stated, “Efforts are being made to create a safety passage or a small tunnel with the help of a pipe. Necessary materials have been made available at the site, and a platform is being constructed. Subsequently, the construction of the escape tunnel will commence. Everyone is reported to be safe.”
The pace of drilling has been hindered by landslides in the area, but authorities are working diligently to overcome this obstacle. Uttarakhand state police chief Ashok Kumar affirmed that rescue efforts are being conducted with urgency.
In order to expedite the rescue work, the Air Force transported a second drilling machine on a C-130 Hercules military plane after the first one broke down.
The rescue operations involve approximately 80 policemen, 20 fire services officials, and 60 disaster management officials.
Additionally, officials have sought guidance from the Thai company that successfully rescued a junior football team and their coach from a flooded cave in 2018. This team, renowned for their expertise in such operations, rescued the 12 boys after they were trapped for over two weeks in the Tham Luang cave complex.
The situation in Uttarakhand continues to develop, and further updates are anticipated.