‘Breakthrough’ soon in Uttarkashi tunnel rescue? CM Dhami’s big update

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As the rescue operations entered the 17th day in the Silkyara tunnel, rescuers crossed the 50-metre mark and needed to dig through around seven metres of rubble using rat-hole mining techniques to bring out the 41 trapped workers. Twelve rat-hole mining experts are involved in the horizontal excavation through the last 10 or 12-metre stretch of debris of the collapsed portion of the under-construction tunnel on Uttarakhand’s Char Dham route.

Uttarakhand chief minister Pushkar Singh Dhami reached the site on Tuesday morning and said almost 52 metres of drilling has been done and it is expected that there will be a breakthrough around 57 metres. Micro tunnelling expert Chris Cooper earlier said three metres of manual drilling has been done so far and about 50 metres of drilling work has been completed in total.

“Almost 52 metres has been done (pipe inserted). It is expected that there will be a breakthrough around 57 metres. One metre of the pipe was pushed in before me, if two metres more of it is pushed in it will be around 54 metres in. After that, one more pipe will be used in…Earlier steel girders were found (during drilling). This has reduced now. Right now, we are finding more of concrete, it is being cut with cutter,” Dhami told reporters.

“It went very well last night. We have crossed 50 metres. It’s now about five-six metres to go. We didn’t have any obstacles last night. It is looking very positive,” news agency quoted Cooper as saying.

ANI citing official sources reported that about 57 metres of drilling work from the mouth of the tunnel, is to be done in total to lay a pipe inside the tunnel to reach the trapped workers.

Earlier the rescuers had completed about 47 metres of drilling work using the auger machine to lay the pipe. The drilling work was put on hold as the auger machine got stuck in the debris, which was later cut and removed using a plasma cutter.