Uttarkashi (Uttarakhand) [India]: The workers involved in rat-hole mining inside the Silkyara tunnel to rescue 41 trapped labourers asserted confidence that the drilling work will be completed in 24 hours and the trapped labourers will be brought out soon as the rescue efforts entered 17th day on Tuesday.
Speaking to ANI on Tuesday morning, Naseem, one of the workers said that they have already done 5 metres of manual drilling work so far, and 51 metres have been completed in totality.
"51 metres of drilling is completed. We have done 5 metres inside through manual drilling. We are going inside the 800 mm pipe and about 6 metres of drilling work is left. It won't take much long, we will complete it in 24 hours, and will bring our boys out soon," Naseem said.
He added that it takes about 1-2 hours to drill 1 metre and if any obstacle comes by it may take longer but so far the work has been progressing well.
Another one of the workers said that the government has provided them with all necessary equipment needed for their safety adding that the work is going at a good pace.
"We are a team of 12 specialists and 2 workers go inside the tunnel at a time. We are going inside the 800 mm pipe, and yes, it is challenging but we are trying to complete it sooner," he said.
Rat-hole miners are carrying out the manual drilling work which has been going on since Monday night. The debris thus generated is taken out manually using ropes from the rescue pipe.
As per official sources, about 57 metres of drilling work from the mouth of the tunnel, is to be done in total to lay a pipe inside the tunnel to reach the trapped workers.
Meanwhile, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami has reached the tunnel site. He is accompanied by Secretary to the Uttarakhand government Neeraj Khairwal, District Magistrate Abhishek Ruhela, Uttarkashi SP Arpan Yaduvanshi, former advisor to the Prime Minister's Office Bhaskar Khulbe and Deputy Secretary to the Prime Minister's Office Mangesh Ghildiyal.
Earlier speaking to ANI on the ongoing rescue efforts, micro tunnelling expert Chris Cooper said that it is looking very positive the way work is gaining momentum.
"It went very well last night. We have crossed 50 metres. It's now about 5-6 metres to go. We didn't have any obstacles last night. It is looking very positive," he said.
Earlier the rescuers had completed about 47 metres of drilling work using the auger machine to lay the pipe.
The drilling work was put on hold as the auger machine got stuck in the debris, which was later cut and removed using a plasma cutter.
Meanwhile, National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL) Managing Director Mahmood Ahmad on Monday said that the vertical drilling of 36 meters has been completed which was done from atop the hill.
Officials informed that the 41 workers trapped inside the tunnel are stable and safe.
A delegation led by Principal Secretary to Prime Minister, Pramod Kumar Mishra also took stock of ongoing efforts earlier on Monday. Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla and Uttarakhand Chief Secretary SS Sandhu along with PK Mishra inspected the work inside the tunnel.