Race against time: Vertical drilling commences for rescue of trapped workers in Silkyara tunnel

Race against time: Vertical drilling commences for rescue of trapped workers in Silkyara tunnel

Hummingbird News Desk

NEW DELHI, 26 NOV: In a dramatic turn of events at the Silkyara tunnel collapse site, rescue operations have shifted gears as officials announced the initiation of vertical drilling to reach the 41 workers trapped inside for more than 14 days. The decision to abandon the horizontal escape passage, made over 48 hours ago, has prompted the deployment of a high-intensity rescue effort to create a vertical escape route.

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As part of the operation, the Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Limited (SJVNL) has taken charge to drill a 1.2 meters diameter vertical escape passage. The ambitious plan involves excavating a staggering 86 meters of tunnel from a chainage distance of 305 meters. Officials overseeing the rescue mission have set a tight deadline of four days to breach the collapsed tunnel roof and reach the stranded workers.

Mahmood Ahmed, Additional Secretary of the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH), expressed confidence in SJVNL’s capabilities. “We asked SJVNL and hope it will be able to drill 86 meters passage from the chainage point at 305 meters and open the tunnel in the next four days as we have kept the 100 hours deadline for it,” he stated during a press briefing.

However, the complexity of the operation is evident as Ahmed explained that two drilling machines will be required due to the limitations of each machine to drill only 40 meters. The estimated 70 hours for drilling also includes the time needed to switch from one machine to another.

Meanwhile, efforts to clear the horizontal escape passage, which was halted over 48 hours ago, continue to face challenges. Rescue officials reported that experts and technicians are still grappling with the extraction of the broken shaft and blades of the auger machine lodged within the tunnel debris.

Neeraj Khairwal, the Uttarakhand government nodal officer deployed for the rescue operation, provided insights into the difficulties faced in the horizontal passage clearing. “All efforts are being made to clear it by Monday morning. Plasma cutter, laser cutter, and glass cutter are being used to cut and remove stuck parts of the machine from the debris,” he explained.

In a bid to enhance efficiency, a laser cutting machine was flown in from DRDO Hyderabad, and a plasma cutter was brought in from Chandigarh. Additionally, a team of experts from ONGC in Rajamundry was mobilized to the site to expedite the removal of trapped auger machine parts.

Khairwal acknowledged the challenges of working within the confined space of the 800mm diameter steel pipeline, emphasizing the tough and challenging conditions under which the rescue team is operating. As the clock ticks, the race against time intensifies, and the world watches anxiously, hoping for a successful and swift resolution to this harrowing ordeal.

Image Courtesy@INet

Tags: #SilkyaraTunnel #VerticalDrilling #SJVNL #TrappedWorkers #MoRTH

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