The drilling process was stopped on Thursday because of obstructions, but the repair work is being done to restart the process, using an auger machine, shortly.
National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) on Friday said no further progress has been made since Thursday in drilling through the debris at the Silkyara tunnel in Uttrakhand to rescue 41 trapped workers but assured that the drilling by auger machine will start soon.
The drilling process was stopped on Thursday because of obstructions, but the repair work is being done to restart the process, using an auger machine, shortly. “By any means”, the trapped workers will be rescued as all resources are being used, said NDMA member Lt Gen (retd) Syed Ata Hasnain while briefing media on rescue operations.
There has been no progress in the movement of pipe through debris in the tunnel since Thursday, and about 15 metres of drilling is still left to reach the stranded workers, he added. Giving details of the operations, he said that provided there are no obstacles, the auger machine should be able to drill about 4-5 metres in an hour. Hasnain also advised the media not to speculate on the timeline for completion of the rescue operations as it creates a wrong perception.
“It is a difficult and challenging operation,” he added. The NDMA member also said all the workers are safe, and their relatives, Union Minister VK Singh and Uttrakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami have spoken to them.
Drilling through the rubble to prepare an escape route for the 41 workers trapped inside the Silkyara tunnel was set to resume on Friday morning, a day after another snag hit the rescue efforts. On Thursday, boring through the rubble was put on hold again, apparently after cracks appeared in the platform on which the drilling machine rests.
The dampener came hours after the operation resumed earlier in the day, following a six-hour delay to cut through an iron girder that came in the way of the auger machine late Wednesday night. Hasnain also said central agencies and several state governments are actively involved in the rescue operations.
The men have been trapped for the past 12 days after a portion of the under-construction tunnel on the Uttarakhand Char Dham route collapsed, cutting off its exit.