Uttarkashi tunnel collapse: First ‘breakthrough’ at site as rescuers push through 6-inch pipe

Larger quantities of food could now be supplied to the trapped workers

Uttarkashi Tunnel Collapse A high-performance drilling machine being brought for rescue operation after a portion of an under-construction tunnel between Silkyara and Dandalgaon on the Brahmakhal-Yamunotri national highway collapsed, trapping several workers inside, in Uttarkashi district | PTI

In a breakthrough to the rescue operations, a six-inch wide pipeline was pushed through the rubble of the collapsed tunnel in Uttarakhand on Monday. The pipe will help the rescuers to supply larger quantities of food and basic essentials to the 41 workers trapped inside the tunnel.

Its been nine days since the workers are being trapped in the tunnel. Initially, a four-inch tube was being used to supply light foods including dry fruits. Even medicines including antidepressants were supplied to the workers on Friday.

The new pipeline will allow food items like roti and sabji to be sent to the workers.

NHIDCL Director Anshu Manish Kalkho 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," said Kalkho.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke with Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami to take stock of the rescue operation on Monday.

PM Modi said it is necessary to keep up the morale of the trapped workers.

An international tunneling expert, Arnold Dix visited the site and reviewed the rescue efforts. Dix heads the Geneva-based International Tunneling and Underground Space Association. After visiting the site he expressed hope in rescuing the workers.

Meanwhile, NHIDCL told media that the rescuers were able to communicate with the workers.

Also, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has pressed two robots into operation.

"DRDO has sent 2 robots weighing 20 kg and 50 kg respectively. The robots move on the ground. The loose ground there has raised apprehensions whether the robots will be able to move there or not. Other machinery will be there within a day or two," said Kalkho.

Uttarkashi district magistrate Abhishek Ruhela said on Monday that the rescue operation is in its advanced stage.

"It is in the advanced stage, official information will be out soon...The most important thing is to make an approach road through BRO and we are hoping that it finishes by tonight or early morning tomorrow from this end and the action will begin soon," he was quoted by the Hindustan Times

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