For Real Time Updates and Better ExperienceDownload the app Now!
Download the app Now!

Uttarkashi tunnel Rescue: All Workers rescued successfully from collapsed tunnel

Workers were trapped since 17 days in the tunnel

Updated: Nov 28th, 2023

Workers Rescued from Uttarakhand Tunnel (img: X/@pushkardhami)

Updated on Nov 28, at 8.40 p.m.

All workers have been rescued from the Uttarkashi tunnel. Ambulances for all the workers were present at the rescue site. The workers will reportedly be shifted to hospital by Chinook helicopter. CM Pushkar Singh Dhami is greeting them, along with Union minister for state General (Retd) VK Singh.

Updated on Nov 28, at 3.35 p.m.

The drilling and piping work for the tunnel has been completed, and the workers will be out any minute now, according to reports. Ambulances are standby in the tunnel, and as soon as the 41 workers are rescued, they will be taken to the hospitals.

Updated on Nov 28, at 9.30 a.m.

17 days have passed since the Silkyara tunnel accident took place in Uttarakhand’s Uttarkashi, but no visible success has been achieved as several agencies with 200 employees continue rescue operations to bring out 41 workers trapped in the tunnel.

After repeated interruptions in the auger machine, vertical drilling work has been started from the top of the hill from Nov 26. And till now drilling up to 31 meters has been completed.

Meanwhile, in a positive development, broken parts of the auger machine have been taken out. Now manual drilling work will be started here, which will proceed under the supervision of the engineering group of the Indian Army, Madras Sappers.

Updated on Nov 26, at 3.45 p.m.

In the latest development, after the American Auger machine failed, the Indian army reportedly stepped in today for the rescue operation at a collapsed tunnel in Uttarakhand’s Uttarkashi, where 41 workers have been trapped for the past 15 days. At the disaster site, international tunnelling expert Arnold Dix promised that the workers would be out “by Christmas,” which is still a month away.

A plasma cutter machine from Hyderabad was flown in after the Auger blades suffered damages during drilling. An official said today that the plasma cutter has been deployed to pull out the stuck parts of the Auger machine for which vertical drilling has been started.

Besides, another laser-assisted cutter has been brought in from Chandigarh for further assistance in the ongoing rescue work to retrieve the stuck components of Auger machine.

The rescue operation was halted on Nov 25 to bring out 41 trapped workers from Uttarakhand’s Silkyara tunnel after the blades of the auger machine got stuck in the rubble.

The chief minister, Pushkar Singh Dhami, said, “20 to 25 metres are yet to be done. We are expecting that this machine will come out, and then we will move forward manually.”

Updated on Nov 24, at 4.15 p.m.

Former adviser to the prime minister’s Office, Bhaskar Khulbe, has said the rescue operation at the Silkyara tunnel here will conclude by evening today and hopefully 41 trapped workers will be evacuated.

“The drilling work resumed at 11.30 a.m. The situation now is better. On Thursday (Nov 23), we had to work on two things -- repairing a cracked platform for American Augur drilling machine and ground penetration radar work by Parsons company. With this work, we got to know there is no metal obstacle till five metres. When we were removing the debris, two pipes were found.”

Drilling work was halted on the night of Nov 23 due to a steel pipe, and resumed after cutting and removing it.

Uttarakhand chief minister Pushkar Singh Dhami is present on the rescue site and has been interacting with the trapped workers from time to time and assuring them of their safe evacuation.

Union Minister General VK Singh is also in Uttarkashi.

Relief and rescue work, which entered the 13th day, is being carried out by scientists, international experts, NDRF, SDRF, BRO on a war footing.

Updated on Nov 24, at 8 a.m.

The operation to rescue 41 workers trapped inside the collapsed Silkyara tunnel in Uttarakhand's Uttarkashi district was halted after the platform supporting the auger machine which was drilling through the debris collapsed in the evening on Nov 23.

Girish Singh Rawat, one of the members of the rescue operation team, said: “Drilling cannot be done until the platform is ready. It may take five to six hours to get the platform ready.”

“So far, around 45 meters of drilling has been completed and about 10 to 12 meters of drilling work is left. As soon as the drilling is completed, the workers trapped in the tunnel will be rescued and will be taken to a hospital,” he added.

In view of the rescue operation, a temporary chief minister camp office has been set up in Matali. Earlier in the day, chief minister Pushkar Singh Dhami reached Silkyara and took stock of the rescue operation.

He also talked to the workers trapped in the tunnel through a walkie-talkie. 

Uttarkashi DM Abhishek Ruhela, who also reached the tunnel site on the day, said that the rescue operation is almost in the final stages. “A pipeline is being laid in the tunnel to evacuate the workers. The pieces of steel stuck in the debris have been removed. Hopefully, positive results will come soon.”

Updated on Nov 23, at 8.05 p.m.

Rescue operations continued for the 11th day, drilling up to 50 metres has been completed, with an additional 12 metres remaining to be drilled before rescuers can reach the trapped labourers.

A number of ambulances and a team of 15 doctors have been deployed outside the tunnel as the labourers are about to come out soon. After the evacuation, the labourers will be immediately taken to a 41-bed special hospital set up in Chinyalisour, Uttarakhand. They may be flown to the hospital via a helicopter.

Officials said that six pipes of 800 mm diameter have been inserted into the tunnel through the rubble using the auger machine.

Work is underway on welding the 7th pipe.

The welding of pipes that are being pushed into the drilled holes will provide workers with an escape route.

Nigel, the safety chief of Larsen and Toubro involved in the rescue, said: “The drilling work is progressing very well. There is hope that we will reach our goal soon. We are also assisting in micro-tunnelling, and the entire operation is proceeding smoothly.”

National Disaster Response Force officer Ravi S Badhani said that the rescue operation is progressing well. Vertical drilling is underway, and they are very close to the people trapped inside the tunnel.

Updated on Nov 21, at 8 p.m.

Fresh pictures that emerged from the site of the Silkyara tunnel collapse in Uttarakhand showed that the 41 labourers trapped inside were mostly safe, an official said today, adding that those engaged in the rescue operations will now try to drill the tunnel vertically to create an evacuation passage.

Thick pipes have been brought to the Silkyara Tunnel by helicopter from Odisha and a large vertical drilling machine has been brought to create the evacuation passage.

These heavy-duty pipes and the vertical drilling machine will be taken to the mountain above the tunnel for boring, officials said.

Arnold Dix, an international tunneling expert from Australia, is leading the rescue operation.

The official said the location for drilling above the tunnel has already been identified and the rescue team is ready to execute the entire operation.

The vertical machine will conduct drilling from above the tunnel towards the bottom. The special feature of this machine is that it can perform drilling in a large area.

Updated on Nov 21, at 10.18 a.m.

After nine days of the accident, the first visuals of workers trapped inside the collapsed Silkyara tunnel in Uttarakhand's Uttarkashi surfaced this morning.

Chief minister Pushkar Singh Dhami tweeted the visuals, saying, “For the first time, a picture has been received of workers trapped in the tunnel under construction in Silkyara, Uttarkashi. All the labour brothers are completely safe; we are trying with all our might to get them out safely soon.”

On Nov 20, rescuers pushed a six-inch-wide pipeline through the rubble of a collapsed Silkyara tunnel that would help them supply larger quantities of food.

Updated on Nov 20, at 1.45 p.m.

Cabinet minister Nitin Gadkari reached the tunnel site on Nov 19 and said that as rescue operation continues for the eighth day to save the lives of 41 workers trapped at Silkyara tunnel in Uttarkashi, the Sutlej Jal Vidyut Nigam ltd (SJVNL) will do vertical drilling to rescue the labourers for which equipment have been mobilised from Gujarat and Odisha through Indian railways.

He added that the workers would be rescued in two and a half days if the drilling work is carried out without any further hindrances.

He also said that ONGC, having expertise in deep drilling, has started the initial work for vertical drilling from the Barkot end.

Secretary in the ministry of road transport and highways, Anurag Jain, said that a decision has been taken to implement a five-option action plan to rescue the 41 trapped workers.

Jain said that on Nov 12, it was reported that the collapse occurred in under-construction tunnel from Silkyara to Barkot due to muck falling in the 60m stretch on the Silkyara side of the tunnel.

“Rescue operations were underway, however, on Nov 17, because of ground movement, it became unsafe to continue with this option without securing the structure,” he said, adding that considering the lives involved, it was decided to move on all possible fronts together so that the workers can be rescued as early as possible.

He said that five agencies - Oil and Natural Gas corporation (ONGC), SVJNL, Rail Vikas Nigam ltd (RVNL), National Highways and Infrastructure Development corporation ltd (NHIDCL), and Tehri Hydro Development corporation ltd (THDCL), have been assigned responsibilities to rescue the trapped labourers.

For food, the workers are provided items such as channa, murmure, dry fruits along with medicines through four-inch compressor pipeline.

Jain further said that NHIDCL is creating another six-inch pipeline for food, and drilling of 39m out of 60m has been completed.

Updated on Nov 15, at 4 p.m.

As the rescue operation at the Uttarkashi collapsed tunnel site entered the fourth day, a fresh landslide has delayed the rescue of the labourers trapped for over 80 hours.

With the assistance of the Air Force, heavy auger drilling machines are being arranged for the rescue operation. Uttarakhand DGP Ashok Kumar has stated that they will soon rescue all the workers.

This machine, equipped with pipe pushing technology, will drill through the debris in the tunnel and insert a pipe of 880 to 900 mm, creating an escape passage for the workers

The rescue work was affected when a fresh landslide caused debris to fall from above, causing a stampede-like situation that left one labourer injured.

Updated on Nov 15, 11.30 a.m.

The police facilitated the workers’ contact with their anxious kin through a pipe.

Uttarkashi Police’s CO Prashant Kumar, in a bid to bolster the trapped men's spirits, made arrangements for some of them to talk to their families through this mechanism.

Kotdwara resident Gambhir Singh Negi, who is among the trapped men, talked to his son, who inquired about his well-being and gave him update of the efforts being made to rescue them. 

Meanwhile, the Uttarkashi police control room is keeping others’ families updated on the situation while food, water, and oxygen is being supplied to the trapped men.

Updated on Nov 14, at 5.25 p.m.

Rescue operations to save 40 labourers trapped in an, continued for the third day today.

To rescue the workers from the under-construction tunnel in Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand, 900 mm diameter steel pipes and drill machines have reached the spot. Special care is being taken to supply oxygen to the labourers trapped in the tunnel.

To ensure that no untoward incident occurs when the workers are taken out of the tunnel, the Health Department has set up a six-bedded temporary hospital to give them immediate medical help.

Chief medical officer Dr RCS Panwar said that the hospital has been set up near the incident site in which oxygen cylinders have also been installed. Ten ambulances along with a 24-hour medical team have also been deployed in this hospital.

Manikant Mishra, commandant SDRF, who is leading the rescue operation, today talked to the workers trapped in the tunnel through a walkie-talkie and inquired about their well-being. The workers told him that they were all fine and hoped that they would be rescued soon.

The district administration has given details of the labourers trapped in the tunnel. Out of the 40 labourers, 15 are from Jharkhand, three from Bihar, four from Bengal, two from Uttarakhand, one from Himachal, eight from Uttar Pradesh, two from Assam and five from Odisha.

Updated on Nov 14, at 12.50 p.m.

Relief and rescue operations are underway after a portion of an under-construction tunnel on the Yamunotri National Highway in Uttarakhand’s Uttarkashi district on Nov 12 collapsed due to a landslide.

State disaster management secretary Ranjit Kumar Sinha on Nov 13 reached the spot after the landslide and took stock of the situation. He said that all the workers are safe, adding that food, water, and oxygen are being supplied to them through pipelines.

It may take one to two more days to rescue the 40 workers trapped in the Silkyara tunnel, he added. 

Uttarkashi superintendent of police (SP) Arpan Yaduvanshi said that the rescue operation is going on. Teams of all agencies and technical experts have reached the site. Out of 60 metres of debris, more than 20 metres of debris have been removed. The family members trapped in the tunnel have also been contacted.

Also, a committee has been constituted under the chairmanship of the director, Uttarakhand disaster mitigation and management centre to study and investigate the causes of the landslide that occurred in the tunnel.

As per the list of the trapped workers, most of them belong to states like Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Odisha, Uttarakhand, and Himachal Pradesh.

Updated on Nov 12, at 7.30 p.m.

At least 35 workers were trapped inside an under construction tunnel on Yamunotri national highway in Uttarakhand’s Uttarkashi district today after a landslide led to a part of the structure collapsing and all efforts are on to rescue them, officials said. 

The tunnel is a part of the Char Dham project and is supposed to connect Silkyara to Dangalgaon, reducing the distance between them by at least 25 kms when completed. 

Additional director general of police (ADG), law and order, AP Anshuman said that no death has been reported yet. The NDR, SDRF and other rescue teams have reached the spot along with the police force. 

According to the information, the accident happened at 5 a.m. today at a distance of 200 metres from the tunnel entrance towards Silkyara, while the workers were 2,800 metres inside the entrance.

With a total length of 4.5 km, construction of 4 km has already been completed. It was supposed to be completed by Sept 2023, but has been delayed. 

Authorities said a narrow opening has been made to pass oxygen into the tunnel as personnel of several teams of the NDRF, the SDRF and fire brigade work on to rescue the trapped workers.

(With inputs from IANS)

For more such updates and news on the go, follow us on Instagram | YouTube | Facebook