Big move: 6-inch pipe sent into Silkyara tunnel
UTTARKASHI: Rescuers on Monday pushed a six-inch-wide pipeline through the rubble of the collapsed Silkyara tunnel, a breakthrough that will help them supply larger quantities of food and possibly allow live visuals of the 41 workers trapped inside for eight days. So far, a four-inch existing tube was being used to supply oxygen and items like dry fruit and medicines into the section of the tunnel beyond the rubble of the collapsed portion of the under-construction tunnel on the Char Dham route in Uttarakhand. National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL) director Anshu Manish Khalkho called it the “first breakthrough” at the site. “We have sent the pipe 53 metres to the other side of the rubble and the trapped workers can hear and experience us,” he said. “First achievement, big achievement. The next step is the more vital one and the most important – that’s to get them out intact, happy,” his colleague Col Deepak Patil said. Drones and robots from the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) have also been brought to the site to look into the possibility of other escape routes for the trapped men. Rescue workers were yet to resume the horizontal boring through the debris after a boulder appeared to block the progress of the heavy-duty auger machine earlier this week. But an official statement said this was scheduled to begin in the evening. The first machine for construction of a vertical rescue shaft – possibly around 80-metre deep – by drilling from near the hilltop has also reached the tunnel. A road to the hilltop has been laid, and the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) is arranging for more equipment, the statement said. Also, work has begun on drilling from the other side, the Barkot-end, of the tunnel, it said. The Uttarakhand High Court took note Monday of a plea on the disaster. It has asked the state government to respond to it by Tuesday.