States & UTs

    'Plasma Cutter To Aid Removal Of Auger Machine, Blades From Debris': Micro-Tunneling Expert Amid Uttarkashi Rescue Ops

    Inam Ansari
    November26/ 2023
    Last Updated:

    Plasma Cutter To Aid Removal Of Auger Machine

    Uttarkashi: A day after the ongoing efforts to rescue 41 trapped workers from the collapsed portion of the under-construction Silkyara tunnel in Uttarkashi hit fresh hurdles, micro-tunnelling expert Chris Cooper on Sunday said the rescuers were removing smaller as well as bigger pieces of debris from the auger machine stuck inside the tunnel.
    Speaking to ANI on Sunday, Cooper also shed light on the efficiency of the plasma-cutting machine flown in from Hyderabad in the early hours of Sunday to put some speed into the ongoing process of removing the debris that separates the rescuers from the trapped workers.
    "We are still in the process of removing the Auger (driller) from inside the tunnel. The plasma machine will help us in this task as it will cut through the steel (blades stuck in the rubble) faster. The plasma machine cuts the steel much faster," Cooper told ANI.
    On how much time it will take to remove the auger blades and the machine from the rubble, the micro-tunneling expert said, "We do not know. It depends. Sometimes we get smaller pieces out. Sometimes we get bigger pieces out."
    The plasma cutter, specially requisitioned and flown in from Hyderabad to aid the process of removing the heavy-duty drilling machine and the stuck auger blades from inside the tunnel, was put to work on Sunday morning.
    The process of removing the Auger from the debris was underway even before the plasma cutter arrived on Sunday.
    Earlier, on Saturday, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) member, Lt General (retd) Syed Ata Hasnain, said there has been no progress in the last 24 hours in the drilling work to rescue the 41 trapped workers inside the Uttarkashi tunnel.
    The NDMA member said a portion of the US-made Auger machine was broken, blocking the potential escape route for the workers. "The current update is that (in) the last 24 hours, there hasn't been any movement within this bore tunnel that was being made for the rescue. This is because the Auger machine itself has had a bit of an accident. A portion of it (has actually) broken, and that broken portion has to be pulled out (of the escape pipe)," Hasnain told ANI.
    Meanwhile, a protection umbrella was laid inside the Silkyara tunnel to ensure the safety of the rescuers, who have stuck to the task of extracting the trapped workers for over two weeks now, official sources said. After a portion of the tunnel caved in on November 12, the debris falling in the 60-metre stretch on the Silkyara side of the tunnel trapped 41 labourers inside the under-construction structure. —ANI