Sat, 09 Dec 2023

Dehradun (Uttarakhand) [India], November 19 (ANI): Amid the ongoing efforts to rescue the workers trapped in the Uttarkashi tunnel, a portion of which caved in earlier, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami will on Sunday conduct an on-site inspection of the operations, the Chief Minister's Office (CMO) informed through an official release.

The CM will be accompanied by Union Minister Nitin Gadkari during his visit to the tunnel site on Sunday.

"Along with the Chief Minister, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari is also arriving to take stock of the relief and rescue work," the CMO added in its statement.

On Saturday, a former advisor to the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) took stock of the relief operations at the under-construction Silkyara Tunnel located on the Uttarkashi-Yamnotri road.

The local administration on Saturday informed that it would deploy a tree-cutting expert as part of the ongoing efforts to extricate 40 workers trapped inside the tunnel for seven days now.

A tree-cutting expert, Ashiq Hussain, was called by the Forest Department to the tunnel site, officials said on Saturday.

Officials added that they were trying to reach the workers through vertical drilling from the upper part of the tunnel.

"We were trying to reach them horizontally, now we will also try vertically. A spot right above the tunnel has been identified and marked. A hole will be drilled from there to reach there. The depth of the hole would be approximately 300-350 feet... The horizontal attempt of rescue would also begin from Barkot end of the tunnel," said Uttarkashi DFO DP Baluni.

Sharing details of the ongoing rescue operation, Bhaskar Khulbe, a former advisor to the PMO, told ANI, "Efforts are on to bolster the entire area's strength to the order that it remains totally safe for workers to approach the rescue work that we are intending to do. I feel that our concerted effort will yield good results in the coming four to five days."Also, on Saturday, Chris Cooper, a micro-tunnelling expert, arrived at the Silkyara tunnel incident site to monitor and oversee the rescue operation.

Cooper is a Chartered Engineer with an experienced track record for delivery of Major International key civil engineering infrastructure, Metro tunnels, Large Caverns, Dams, Railway, and Mining Projects.

"I don't have any information as of now. I only reached here last night (Friday)," he told ANI.

"The heavy-duty drilling machine, which was expected to arrive on Saturday from Indore, has also reached the Silkyara tunnel site," informed Cooper, who is also a consultant for the Rishikesh Karnprayag rail project.

The under-construction tunnel between Silkyara and Dandalgaon on the Brahmakhal-Yamunotri national highway collapsed in the early hours of November 12. (ANI)

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