States & UTs

    Worker Trapped In Slikyara Tunnel Tells Family He Is 'Safe And Healthy' Even As Rescue Operations Continue

    Inam Ansari
    November22/ 2023
    Last Updated:

    Worker Trapped In Slikyara Tunnel Tells Family

    Uttarkashi: As Wednesday marked day 11 of the operation to rescue 41 workers trapped inside the Silkyara tunnel in Uttarakhand's Uttarkashi district, the officials are 'hopeful' to rescue the victims at the earliest.
    The collapse occurred on November 12 during the construction of the tunnel from Silkyara to Barkot, and the debris that fell in a 60-metre stretch on the Silkyara side of the tunnel trapped 41 workers.
    A National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) official said that on November 12, the tunnel caved in and that the other Barkot side of the tunnel was already closed, as work on that side had not yet started.
    Sunita Hembram, the family member of a trapped worker, while speaking to ANI said that she had a conversation with her brother-in-law who is trapped in the tunnel and informed her about his well-being.
    "I had a conversation with my brother-in-law who is trapped here. He is stable and healthy. The workers have received food, clothes and other items. Hopefully, they will be rescued by the morning tomorrow. The doctors also had a conversation with the trapped workers..." Sunita said.
    Meanwhile, Additional Secretary Technical, Road and Transport Mahmood Ahmed said that the 'big news' is expected to be received tonight or tomorrow morning. "If there are no obstacles, some big news may be received tonight or tomorrow morning. An iron rod has also come along with the debris. It is a matter of happiness that this iron in the middle of laying the pipeline did not create any problems for us..." Ahmed said. He also said that an additional 800 mm pipe has also been pushed 21 metres inside the tunnel "An additional 800 mm pipe has also been pushed 21 metres inside the tunnel. Around 12:45 am, we started drilling through the auger machine and so far, we have pushed three more pipes...As long as we reach 45-50 metres inside the tunnel, we will not be able to give you the exact time. We are also doing horizontal drilling, we have entered around 8 metres from there as well..." the official told the reporters.
    L&T Safety Head, Nigel Wirtz said, "The current situation is that they are drilling a way....Hopefully, they are going to break through... It looks like it is going to happen.....We are also assisting with the micro-tunneling as well... The job has to be done correctly and in a systematic way." National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) Second in Command Ravi S Badhani told ANI that the rescuers are "very close" to the victims.
    "The rescue operation is going really well. A good horizontal drill is happening... According to my knowledge, we are very close to victims now... It's difficult to give a time frame, but it's time-consuming... The situation of the trapped worker is fine. They were given the morning breakfast. Communication is well established. They are talking nicely to their family members. Their morale is high..." he said.
    Former advisor to the Prime Minister's Office, Bhaskar Khulbe and Uttarkashi District Magistrate Abhishek Ruhela arrived at the Silkyara Tunnel site earlier in the day. Vivek Srivastava, Commander 36 BRO said that the work on Barkot end will begin today.
    "The machinery has reached the site at the Silkyara end and the drilling has started there...The work on Barkot end will begin today," he said.
    Earlier in the morning, Major Naman Narula of BRO told ANI that the road construction work on the hill from the upper part of the tunnel to the marked place on the tunnel where the drilling work will be done has been completed.
    "Around 1,200 metres of road has been constructed. Two drilling machine vehicles have also reached the tunnel site. We have constructed the track within 48 hours..." Major Narula said. He further said that at the end of the track, two vertical drills are yet to be done.
    "Our task was to give an access road for vertical drilling which was at the Silkyara end of the tunnel wherein a track of 1150 m was to be created which we did and hand it over on November 20... At the end of the track, two vertical drills are to be done, and one machinery has reached the site out of two...Our second task was to give an access road towards Barkot which is the other end of the tunnel so the survey for that ended yesterday and the machinery has reached the ground today..." he added.
    When the rescuers continued their operation on the 11th day, people offered prayers at a temple that had been built at the main entrance of the tunnel. On Tuesday, rescuers attempted 'horizontal drilling' and fed trapped workers with solid cooked food simultaneously.
    A total of five agencies--Oil and Natual Gas Corporation (ONGC), Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam (SJVN), Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL), National Highways & Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL), and Tehri Hydro Development Corporation (THDCL)-- have been assigned specific responsibilities to evacuate the 41 labourers who have been trapped in the 2-km-built portion of the under-construction structure.
    As many as four ambulances have been brought to the site of the tunnel collapse after the request was made for 40 ambulances. The remaining ambulances are to be brought soon from Dehradun.
    "At present four ambulances are present at the site and around 35 ambulances have been sent to the site from different districts. Due to lack of parking facility here, they will be parked at some distance and will be called to the site after being alerted four hours in advance," Naveen, the driver of one of the ambulances said. —ANI