About 40 laborers are trapped inside an under-construction tunnel in Uttarkashi, Uttarakhand for more than 24 hours.
Disaster Management Secretary Ranjit Kumar Sinha, who visited the tunnel, said that it may take two more days to rescue the trapped workers.
A path of about 60 meters has been made to reach and rescue the trapped workers. Officials said about 20 meters of slab blocking the tunnel has been removed and 35 meters of the passage remains to be cleared.
On Sunday, about 40 workers were deployed inside the tunnel for the process of modifying the shape of the approximately 265 meter structure and reprofiling it.
About 50 to 55 meters away from them, a part of the tunnel collapsed, trapping them inside.
As soon as information about the incident was received, rescue work started. One of the priorities of the rescue teams was to ensure supply of food and oxygen to the stranded workers.
Essential items like medicines, food, water, electricity and oxygen were delivered to the stranded area through pipes.
The rescue team successfully established communication with the workers with walkie-talkies.
According to initial reports, a building collapsed due to a landslide in the area. Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami said that debris is falling due to loose soil, due to which the rescue work is getting delayed.
Rescue operations are being delayed due to loose debris, they are being stopped and excavation has started with shotcreting up to 40 meters of the collapsed tunnel.
Shotcreting is a method of spraying concrete at high velocity onto a structure. The rescue team has taken two important steps to rescue the workers.
Shotcreting – 21 meters of debris as well as dirt is being removed. Due to falling debris, the excavation work has reduced by 14 meters.
Rescue teams are planning to drill a hole in the debris pile and insert a 900 mm diameter pipe using a hydraulic jack to rescue the trapped workers. All the materials and machinery required for this operation are being collected. Experts from the Irrigation Department have also joined the operation.
The 4.5 km long tunnel connects Silkyara to the Gangotri-Yamnotri axis and is a part of the Centre’s Chardham Mahamarg project. The workers are trapped in a 400-metre buffer zone in the tunnel and are reportedly safe.