In a significant development, after 10 days of non-stop efforts, rescue officials have successfully captured images of the workers trapped inside a tunnel in Uttarakhand using an endoscopy camera. The camera was sent into the tunnel through a six-inch pipe that was pushed through the rubble to deliver food items to the workers.
The rescue officials also communicated with some of the workers using Walkie Talkies or radio handsets. In a video, the officials can be seen urging the workers to come in front of the camera and speak to them through the Walkie Talkie.
To provide some relief to the trapped workers, khichdi (a rice and lentil dish) was sent to them through the pipe, marking their first hot meal in 10 days. Previously, they could only receive dry fruits and water.
Colonel Deepak Patil, the in-charge of the rescue operation, mentioned that the workers will also be provided with mobile phones and chargers through the pipe.
The rescue attempts faced multiple challenges over the past week, including the difficult topography and the nature of rocks in the area. To overcome these obstacles, two tunnels will be drilled horizontally from the right and left sides of the main tunnel, while a vertical shaft will be drilled from the top.
The rescue operation involves the continuous efforts of various agencies such as the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), State Disaster Response Force (SDRF), Border Roads Organisation (BRO), and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP). An international team of tunnelling experts has also arrived at the site, along with a robotics team from the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
The 41 workers have been trapped since last Sunday when a section of the tunnel collapsed. Officials have assured that all the workers are safe and are being provided with food and water through steel pipes drilled into the opening.
The tunnel is part of the Char Dham project, which aims to improve connectivity to the Hindu pilgrimage sites of Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri.