Rescue operations continued in Uttarkashi on Tuesday morning, as rescuers at the under-construction tunnel collapse site began the process of inserting large-diameter mild steel pipes through the debris using an auger machine, officials said. Authorities further assured that the 40 workers trapped in the collapsed tunnel for two days are now safe and are being supplied with food, water and oxygen.
Pipes will be pushed using horizontal drilling equipment to create an escape route for workers, officials added. Disaster Management Secretary Ranjit Kumar Sinha, who visited the tunnel on Monday, said it would be possible to rescue the trapped workers by Tuesday night or Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the Uttarakhand government has constituted a six-member expert committee to probe the accident. The rescue operation in the tunnel built to connect Silkiara and Dandalgaon in Uttarkashi district began on Sunday. The State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) and the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), along with the police and local administration personnel, started working as soon as the accident was reported.
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Superintendent of Police (Uttarakashi) Arpan Jaduvanshi said. The operation is using two JCBs and a Poklein machine to remove debris inside the 13-metre-wide tunnel. An escape route is being constructed to reach the trapped workers and the distance to reach the trapped workers is about 60 meters.