At least 40 workers are trapped inside the partially collapsed Silkyara tunnel in Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand.
The tunnel partially collapsed on 12 November. A US-made auger machine had been deployed to drill and push in pipes to save the developed snag, thereby halting the rescue process.
Around 2.45 pm on Friday, during the positioning of the fifth pipe, a loud cracking sound was heard in the tunnel after which the rescue operation was suspended, a statement issued by the NHIDCL late on Friday night said.
The 4531-metre Silkyara Tunnel is part of the Chardham Project of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways and will link the Gangotri and Yamunotri axis under the Radi pass area.
The Road, Transport and Highways Secretary Anurag Jain on Sunday said that the government has undertaken a five-option action plan to rescue the workers trapped at Silkyara Tunnel in Uttarkashi, since November 12.
No drilling had begun at the site till Sunday as the rescue teams continued to work simultaneously on different plans for the safe rescue of workers trapped in the collapse tunnel.
The rescue team is preparing to restart the auger machine to bore through thee rubble and insert large diametre steel pipes to prepare an escape route for trapped workers, an official told ANI.
There is a high chance of further collapse in the vicinity of the tunnel, warned an expert involved in the rescue operation. Subsequently, the pipe-pushing activity was stopped on Friday.
In the ongoing rescue operation of tunnel workers, around 6 agencies are engaged on different roles at the accident site. ONGC, RVNL, Satluj Jal Vikas Nigam Ltd, BRO and state PWD, besides NHIDCL, will be the agencies carrying out different responsibilities to establish early access to the trapped workers.