Uttarkashi Rescue Ops Halted Due To Technical Glitch


The Uttarkashi tunnel rescue operation of the 41 workers trapped in a portion of the Silkyara tunnel in Uttarkashi, which collapsed over a week ago, has been put on hold again after a technical glitch was faced by the rescue team on Friday evening.

The drilling by the American-made auger machine to rescue the trapped workers was halted after the rescue team faced a technical glitch.

Meanwhile, talking about the drone technology that is being used in the rescue operation, Cyriac Joseph, MD and CEO of Squadrone Infra Mining Pvt Ltd, said that this is a new technology that goes into GPS-denied areas.

“This is a new technology, it goes into GPS-denied areas and is used in underground tunnels and underground mines. It has been introduced in India recently. Our target is to determine how we can rescue the 41 trapped workers and how quickly we can do it. The safety of the rescue team is also important,” Joseph said.

Earlier in the day, Uttarakhand CM Pushkar Singh Dhami informed that the rescue operation to extricate 41 workers trapped in a portion of the Silkyara tunnel in Uttarkashi is “in its final stage,” adding that both the central and state government agencies are working together.

He said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is taking all the updates regarding the rescue operation being carried out at the Silkyara tunnel.

“The rescue operation is in its last stage. PM Modi is taking all the updates about the difficulties that workers might face and discussing the solutions. Both the central and state government agencies are working together on the rescue operation. We hope that soon this operation will be completed and all the workers will come out,” CM Dhami said.

Meanwhile, Additional Secretary Technical, Road and Transport Mahmood Ahmed on Friday said that the auger drilling machine, which developed some cracks on Thursday, has been reassembled and they hope to push the pipe further this time with no obstacles.

“The auger drilling machine has been reassembled. A new pipe will be put in after the welding, which will take two hours. After two hours, we will push the pipe inside the tunnel. We hope that we push the pipe further this time and will face no obstacles,” Additional Secretary Ahmed said.

When asked about the total length of the pipe that has been inserted to rescue the workers, Additional Secretary Ahmed said that two more pipes of 6 metres each have to be inserted to get a breakthrough.

“Two more pipes of 6 metres each have to be inserted. The first 6 metres, which reach 51-52 metres, with the next 6 meter-long pipe, we hope to breakthrough,” he said.

“This is our own estimation and understanding. These estimations are based on certain realities but they are all assumptions and not to be taken exactly, but we hope to be there someway,” he added.

Earlier, Bhaskar Khulbe, a former advisor to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), said a 2-metre part of the inserted pipe had to be cut off as it got compressed due to friction while drilling. This happened after the auger heavy-duty driller encountered an obstruction and exerted more pressure on Thursday, he informed.

Speaking to ANI on Friday morning, Khulbe said the platform on which the Augur drilling machine was mounted developed some cracks on Thursday. However, the cracks have been repaired since informed.

The platform developed some cracks while the rescue operation was underway on Thursday and the process of horizontal drilling through the debris had to be halted as a result.

“Last night, we had to revamp the platform on which the machine is mounted. However, Parsons Company operated a ground penetration radar, which told us that there was no metallic obstruction for the next 5 metres (inside the tunnel). This means that our drilling, once it resumes, should be smooth. When we were removing the debris, we came upon two mangled pipes,” Khulbe said, adding that the trapped workers may be extricated by Friday.

The rescue work continues as a portion of the under-construction tunnel from Silkyara to Barkot collapsed on November 12. The debris falling in the 60-metre stretch on the Silkyara side of the tunnel trapped 41 labourers inside.

The workers are trapped in a 2 km-built portion, which is complete, including concrete work that provides them safety. (ANI)

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