In order to free the forty workers who have been stuck for the past two days, rescuers at the site of the collapsed tunnel began the process on Tuesday by using an auger machine to insert large-diameter mild steel pipes through the debris. To make an escape route for the workers—who are safe and receiving oxygen, water, and light meals like dry fruits—the pipes will be forced into using the horizontal drilling equipment, they said. By Tuesday night or Wednesday, according to Disaster Management Secretary Ranjit Kumar Sinha, authorities hope to have the stranded laborers freed.
Early on Tuesday morning, the mild steel (MS) pipes and the auger machine arrived at the rescue location. The officials stated that a platform is being set up for the auger drilling machine and that the 900-mm-diameter MS pipes are being used. The NHIDCL Executive Director, Col. (retd.) Sandip Sudehra, stated that communication is being kept open with the stranded laborers and that their confidence that a massive rescue effort is underway to free them has also raised their spirits.
The organization in charge of tunnel construction is the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL). Ten medical vehicles and their teams were stationed to provide emergency medical care to the trapped workers after their evacuation, according to Uttarkashi Chief Medical Officer RCS Panwar. A temporary hospital with six beds has also been established near the tunnel. The District Emergency Operation Centre has released a list of the trapped workers, of which 15 are from Jharkhand, 8 from Uttar Pradesh, 5 from Orissa, 4 from Bihar, 3 from West Bengal, 2 from Uttarakhand and Assam, and 1 from Himachal Pradesh.
On Sunday morning, following the under-construction structure on the Brahmakhal-Yamunotri National Highway, they found themselves stuck in the tunnel. Water pipelines are providing food and oxygen to the workers, who are stranded in a buffer zone but unharmed. Within a 400-meter radius, they can breathe and walk, according to a disaster response official. Using walkie-talkies, the rescue teams were able to successfully establish communication with the workers. Rescuers used a note on a piece of paper to establish contact at first, but eventually they were able to communicate via radio handsets.
A component of the Chardham project is the 4.5-kilometer tunnel on the Brahmakhal-Yamunotri National Highway that will connect Silkyara and Dandalgaon in Uttarkashi. When it’s all said and done, the distance should be reduced by 26 kilometers. Despite early reports suggesting that a nearby landslide was the cause of the collapse, officials say that an investigation is currently underway to ascertain the exact cause of the collapse.