Watch: First video of workers trapped in a tunnel in Uttarakhand for over nine days

In a remote area of Uttarakhand, distressing reports have surfaced regarding numerous workers confined in a tunnel for more than nine days. This week, rescuers made a significant breakthrough by inserting a six-inch-wide pipeline into the rubble of the collapsed Silkyara tunnel. The comparatively small pipe aims to deliver substantial quantities of food to the trapped workers.
Local reports indicate that 41 workers are stuck inside the tunnel, and rescuers have successfully provided them with ample food and water. Communication has also been established with the workers through walkie-talkies.

The visuals of the trapped workers were captured using an endoscopic camera, a tube-like structure inserted into the six-inch food pipeline. Families, initially terrified by the news, breathed a sigh of relief when the camera revealed the workers were in good condition.
In video footage, workers, identifiable by their yellow and white helmets, are shown receiving food items sent through the pipeline.

Previously, a mere four-inch tunnel was used to supply dry fruits, medicines, and oxygen to the workers trapped when the under-construction route to Char Dham collapsed. Anshu Manish Khalkho, director of the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL), described the insertion of the pipe 53 meters into the wall as a “breakthrough.”

While acknowledging the significance of the progress, Col Deepak Patil emphasised the ultimate goal of rescuing each worker intact and out of harm’s way.

Trapped workers receive their first hot meal in days, with the tunnel now being used to supply them with hot khichdi. Previously surviving on dry fruits and water, the workers now have a more substantial and nutritious food supply.

The tunnel collapse, which occurred on November 12, trapped the workers when a 60-meter stretch collapsed on the Silkyara side during construction.

Efforts to supply food and electricity to the trapped workers have continued without disruption. A list of available food options, prepared with the assistance of doctors, guides the supplies being sent.

The rescue team is using cylindrical bottles with wide mouths to send items like bananas, apples, khichdi, and daliya to the trapped labourers.

As the authorities plan an escape route, praise has been directed toward the use of drones and robots in the rescue efforts. The Defence Research and Development Organisation is exploring faults and escape routes through the use of underwater technologies.

Rescue workers are scheduled to resume horizontal boring through the debris, with a focus on establishing a vertical rescue shaft around 80 meters deep.

International tunnelling expert Arnold Dix has joined the efforts to review the rescue operations. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has personally reached out to Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami, emphasising the need to keep the spirits of the trapped workers high.

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