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Uttarkashi tunnel collapse: Six-inch pipe installed for food, communication, official says 'first breakthrough'

In a major breakthrough, rescue agencies installed a six-inch pipe inside the partially collapsed Silkyara tunnel in Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand through which authorities can provide food and medicines for 41 workers trapped for over a week following a landslide on November 12, reported PTI.

Anshu Mansish Khalkho, director, NHIDCL, told the media that rescue workers were able to communicate with the workers through the newly installed pipe.

“We have achieved our first breakthrough, for which we had been trying for the last nine days and was our first priority. A 6-inch pipe has been installed and they (trapped workers) can hear us through it. We will now provide them with food and medical supplies through that pipe,” he said.

 “The ‘alternative 6-inch lifeline’ reached the labourers after drilling 53 metres”, he added. 

Earlier, the authorities had been sending dry-fruits, water and medicines via four-inch pipes inside the tunnel. The bigger-diameter pipe will help them send in solid food.

“A relative of Deepak Kumar, who is one of the trapped labourers, talked with them and he told me that there is an atmosphere of happiness among the workers inside the tunnel,” ANI quoted Khalkho as saying.

DRDO Robots

Meanwhile, two robotics machines sent by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) for rescue operation arrived at the site today morning and were pressed into operation.

“DRDO has sent 2 robots weighing 20 kg and 50 kg respectively. The robots move on the ground. The loose ground there has raised apprehensions whether the robots will be able to move there or not. Other machinery will be there within a day or two,” Khalkho said.

“An attempt was made to use that machine inside, but as I told you, the strata and ruble inside (the tunnel) are very loose, so it was not successful there,” he told ANI. 

The rescue agencies are also attempting to drill into the tunnel perpendicularly.

Silkyara tunnel in Uttarkashi of Uttarakhand, part of the Central government’s ambitious Char Dham project, collapsed on November 12, entrapping 41 workers inside.

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Updated: 20 Nov 2023, 08:10 PM IST

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