On Thursday, 40 construction workers in northern India received food and medication from rescuers as authorities began excavating the debris to free the men who had been stranded since part of the tunnel they were working on collapsed over the weekend.
In order to liberate the workers who have been stranded in the hilly state of Uttarakhand since early Sunday, rescuers intended to install huge steel pipes. After three Indian Air Force cargo planes flew their pieces in from New Delhi on Wednesday, a new drilling machine was assembled.
According to Devendra Patwal, a disaster management relief official, the US Auger machine will be used to drill a stretch of about 45 meters. Rescuers expect to reach the trapped workers by Friday night or Saturday.
According to a state government statement on Wednesday, a machine utilized earlier in the week proved sluggish in forcing the pipes through the debris.
The state’s senior elected official, Pushkar Singh Dhami, expressed optimism that all those stranded within will be safely freed in the next day or two.
Every two hours, cashew nuts, peanuts, roasted and soaked chickpeas, popcorn, and medications are given to the stranded workers, according to Devendra Patwal, a disaster management assistance officer.
He stated that although several reported fever and body aches on Wednesday, their condition has not worsened.
Going by just one name, Yogesh cut short his Diwali celebrations and hurried to the collapsed tunnel upon hearing that his brother was trapped. On Wednesday, he talked to his brother, Vishal.
“He insisted he was well, but he sounded nervous. When he inquired about the rescue effort, I informed him that it was being conducted on a military footing,” Yogesh remarked.
A representative of the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation, named Anshu Manish Khalko, predicted that the drilling operation would begin on Thursday.
“Once operational, this machine will facilitate the creation of an escape tunnel quickly to ensure the evacuation of the trapped laborers,” he stated.
Friends and family of the stranded workers gathered outside the tunnel on Wednesday, and it was evident that they were becoming irritated and unhappy. Regarding moving forward with the rescue, the state government has conferred with the Indian army and outside specialists.
According to state government administrator Gaurav Singh, state authorities have gotten in touch with Thai specialists who assisted in rescuing a junior association football team that was stuck in a network of caves in northern Thailand in 2018. According to Singh, they have also inquired about potential assistance from the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute.
Approximately 200 disaster relief workers have arrived at the scene and are utilizing excavators and drilling equipment to carry out the rescue effort. The goal is to force 75-centimeter-wide steel pipes through a crevice created by the excavated rubble.
Two rescue personnel were slightly hurt by falling debris, which also caused a delay in operations on Tuesday and Wednesday. Since Tuesday, there haven’t been any new landslides.
About 200 meters from the entrance, a section of the 4.5-kilometer tunnel collapsed due to a landslide that occurred during road building. This land is steep and vulnerable to subsidence and landslides.
The hilly state of Uttarakhand is home to numerous Hindu temples that draw many pilgrims and visitors. To handle the inflow, new buildings, and highways are constantly being built.