In a bid to free 40 workers trapped underground for the sixth consecutive day, due to the India Tunnel collapse, rescuers are utilizing a new drilling machine to create an escape tunnel in the collapsed road tunnel in northern India. The drilling, initiated on Thursday, has covered approximately 80 feet so far, with a potential requirement of up to 195 feet to facilitate the workers’ escape, according to Devendra Patwal, a disaster management official.
The trapped workers, who have been confined since Sunday due to a landslide that caused a section of the 2.7-mile tunnel to collapse, have shown symptoms of fever and body aches. However, their overall condition has not deteriorated. To sustain them, supplies such as nuts, roasted chickpeas, popcorn, and medicine are being sent through a pipe every two hours.
Situated in Uttarakhand, a region prone to landslides and subsidence, the collapsed tunnel is part of the Chardham all-weather road project, a significant federal initiative connecting various Hindu pilgrimage sites. The rescue operation involves approximately 200 disaster relief personnel employing drilling equipment and excavators.
Despite earlier setbacks with a slow-moving machine, a new American Auger machine is now in use, boasting a drilling capacity of up to 16 feet per hour and a 2.9-foot-diameter pipe to clear debris. The process is, at times, impeded by the pile of rubble.
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In a collaborative effort, state officials have reached out to Thai experts who successfully rescued a youth soccer team trapped in a cave in Thailand in 2018. Additionally, they have approached the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute for potential assistance in the ongoing rescue operation.