Breakthrough awaited with final stretch of drilling to reach 41 trapped workers


Uttarkashi Tunnel Collapse News Live Updates (November 22):  The rescue of 41 construction workers trapped nearly two weeks in a collapsed tunnel in Uttarakhand’s Uttarkashi has reached the final stretch of digging. After a minor obstruction which has been cleared Thursday morning, the rescue operations are back on track with officials estimating that it will take about 14-15 hours to reach the workers. While rescuers had started working on five operations simultaneously to rescue the men, the one on the Silkyara end is the most promising. “Our calculation as of now is that we need to negotiate a (total) distance of 60 metres to safely reach our trapped workers. This means 18 metres more, means that roughly about 14-15 hours unless something else happens,” said former adviser to the PM Bhaskar Khulbe.

After appearing on camera for the first time on Tuesday, officials said they have also been successful in establishing an audio communication channel after sending a microphone and speaker to the other end of the six-inch supply pipe. Meanwhile, the Uttarakhand government has formed an expert committee with the director, Uttarakhand Landslide Mitigation and Management Center, and experts from the Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, Dehradun, the Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee, the Central Building Research Institute (CBRI), Roorkee, and the Geological Survey of India to investigate the causes of the collapse on November 12.


Who are the men inside? 

Fifteen from Jharkhand, eight from Uttar Pradesh, five each from Odisha and Bihar, three from West Bengal, two each from Uttarakhand and Assam, and one from Himachal Pradesh – the men trapped inside the Uttarkashi tunnel may have come from different states, but what united them was the need to venture out in search of a livelihood. Those working there fall in two salary brackets: Rs 24,000 for skilled workers, pump operators or drillers; and Rs 18,000 for unskilled workers such as labourers or helpers.


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