Uttarakhand tunnel: Rescue ops hit roadblock again due to mechanical fault

Rescue ops underway at Silkyara tunnel in Uttarakhand. Photo: Josekutty Panackal/Manorama

Drilling has been temporarily halted due to a machine breakdown during the rescue mission for workers trapped in the Silkyara tunnel in Uttarakhand. Drilling was stopped after an hour-and-a-half after the drilling started.

The mission to rescue those trapped in the tunnel is likely to extend into the night, sources said. Efforts are on to fix the mechanical fault.

National Disaster Response Force personnel prepare to enter into the tunnel as rescue operation moves into its final phase, for workers trapped in the Silkyara under construction road tunnel. Photo: Arun SANKAR/ AFP

Union Minister of State for Road Transport and Highways Gen V K Singh and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) Director General Atul Karwal visited in Silkyara for an on-the-spot review of the rescue efforts. Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami too visitied the site.

The drilling steel pipes was halted on Wednesday night after the mesh came in the way of the auger machine, officials said. 

Nine tubes of 80 cm in diameter were welded together and pushed into the tunnel. One more tube has to be added to reach the workers, sources said.

Rescue ops underway at Silkyara tunnel in Uttarakhand. Photo: Josekutty Panackal/Manorama

Earlier, officials said the American-made auger machine had to drill through a 57-metre stretch of debris to reach the 41 workers, who were trapped when a portion of the under-construction tunnel collapsed 11 days ago.Rescue operations to evacuate 41 workers trapped in Uttarakhand's Silkyara tunnel resumed on Thursday morning after an overnight hurdle delayed the drilling by several hours.
(With PTI updates.)

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