Uttarkashi Tunnel Collapse: Alternate Pipe Reaches 41 Trapped Workers, Vertical Drilling Likely To Take Place Today

As per media reports, food items are being sent through the alternate pipe inside the collapsed tunnel in Uttarkashi. The food items are sent on the basis of medical experts' opinion in a bid to address the trapped workers' nutritional needs.

Rescue operation underway in Uttarkashi

As the latest development in the ongoing rescue operation in Uttarkashi, a 6-inch wide alternate pipe has managed to reach the 41 workers trapped after the tunnel collapsed days ago. It has been reported that the pipe has facilitated the sending of nutritious food in plastic bottles to the trapped workers.

As per media reports, the food items are being sent on the basis of medical experts' opinion in a bid to address the trapped workers' nutritional needs. Food items included khichdi, fruits including oranges, bananas, apples and 'dalia' (broken wheat).

International experts helping in rescue operation

A team of international experts have been brought to Uttarkashi to assist in the rescue operation of the trapped workers. 

International Tunnelling and Underground Space Association President Arnold Dix, part of the team, inspected the site of the accident and said that the team would deliberate on the plans with the rescuers and then figure out the way forward.

"We are going to get those men out. Great work is being done here. Our whole team is here and we are going to find a solution and get them out. A lot of work is being done here. It is important that not only the men rescued but also those who are rescuing are safe,"an official tild reporters.

"The whole world is helping. The team here is fantastic. The plans are looking fantastic. The work is very systematic. The food and the medication are being provided properly," he said.

The tunnel is being constructed under the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL). It is a part of the ambitious Char Dham all-weather road project of the central government.

It has been reported that the vertical drilling process is likely to take place from today.

An aerial drone survey was attempted twice at the tunnel site to study the gap between debris and the crown of the tunnel. But it could not go beyond 28 metres over the debris due to obstruction and one drone got damaged.

Safety of the trapped workers

According to the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) Inspector General (IG) Narendra Singh Bundela, constructing a safe road was the priority to get to the trapped workers at the earliest.

"Different agencies are engaged in the rescue work, including the district administration, Army, NHDCL, NDRF and so on. Indian and foreign experts are also here. Work is being done with coordination with everyone," he told India Today TV.

He said the workers were safe after constant communication with them.

"We are sending oxygen, water and food items to the workers through a pipe. We are making efforts to lay another pipe and rescue the workers. We are also considering other options. The most important thing right now is workers' safety," he said.

The rescue operation so far

The rescue operation was temporarily suspended on Friday afternoon as the US-made auger machine developed a snag. The auger machine is deployed to drill and push in pipes through the rubble to prepare an escape passage for the workers,

By the time drilling was halted, the auger machine had drilled up to 40 metres through the rubble, spread over a 60-metre area inside the tunnel. Seven pipes having a diameter of 800 mm have been inserted.

After a visit to the site on Sunday, Union Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari said boring horizontally through the debris with the huge auger machine appeared to be the best bet. He anticipated a breakthrough in two and a half days.

PM Modi takes stock of the situation

In a bid to take a stock of the situation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami over the phone about the ongoing relief and rescue operation to rescue the workers.

Giving information about the situation, Dhami said that the state and central agencies were engaged in relief and rescue work with mutual coordination and promptness. He stressed the workers trapped in the tunnel were safe.

The government has sought a report from all the agencies about the development work so far in the rescue operation