On Monday, a significant development occurred in the rescue efforts at the collapsed Silkyara tunnel in Uttarakhand’s Uttarkashi. Rescuers successfully inserted a six-inch-wide pipeline through the tunnel’s rubble, allowing them to provide larger quantities of food to the 41 workers who had been trapped for nine days.
The first visuals of the trapped workers inside the tunnel surfaced on Tuesday morning, captured by an endoscopic camera attached to the newly installed six-inch food pipeline. In the video, workers wearing yellow and white helmets can be seen receiving food items sent through the pipeline and engaging in conversation. This development brought immense relief to the families of the workers.
Previously, a four-inch tube had been used to supply oxygen, dry fruit, and medicines to the section of the tunnel beyond the collapsed portion on the Char Dham route in Uttarakhand.
Anshu Manish Khalkho, director of the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL), described this as the “first breakthrough” at the site, emphasizing that the pipe had been successfully sent 53 meters to the other side of the rubble.
Col. Deepak Patil, Khalkho’s colleague, acknowledged the achievement and highlighted the importance of the next step – safely extracting the trapped workers.
Hot Khichdi Sent for Trapped Workers
To further aid the trapped workers, rescuers planned to send hot Khichdi using plastic cylindrical bottles. Hemant, the cook responsible for preparing the Khichdi, noted that this marked the first time a hot meal was being sent inside the tunnel.
Drones and Robots from DRDO Deployed
The Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) deployed drones and robots to explore potential escape routes for the trapped workers. While the horizontal boring through the debris was temporarily halted, efforts were scheduled to resume in the evening.
Other Rescue Initiatives
A vertical rescue shaft, approximately 80 meters deep, was under construction, and a road to the hilltop had been laid. The Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) was arranging additional equipment for the operation.
International tunneling expert Arnold Dix arrived at the disaster site to assess the ongoing rescue efforts. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also contacted Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami to inquire about the progress and stressed the importance of maintaining the morale of the trapped workers.