Uttarkashi tunnel collapse: All trapped workers safe

Uttarkashi: All 40 workers trapped after an under-construction tunnel collapsed in Uttarkashi are safe and communication has been established with them, officials said on Monday as Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami reached the site to oversee rescue operations.

Rescuers who worked overnight trying to prepare an escape passage for the labourers have provided them with food and water, the Silkyara police control room said. The workers have been trapped for nearly 30 hours now.

A portion of the tunnel being built between Silkyara and Dandalgaon on the Brahmakhal-Yamunotri National Highway caved in on Sunday morning.

According to a list of the trapped workers issued by the District Emergency Operation Centre, 15 are from Jharkhand, eight from Uttar Pradesh, five from Orissa, four from Bihar, three from West Bengal, two each from Uttarakhand and Assam and one from Himachal Pradesh.

Talking to reporters after inspecting the site, Dhami said all efforts were being made for the safe rescue of all those trapped in the debris.

“Safely rescuing the trapped workers is our priority. The rescue operation is being carried out expeditiously. I want to assure the families of the trapped labourers that they will be rescued soon,” he said.

The chief minister said the Centre and his government were working together to rescue the trapped labourers.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnav have taken a detailed update on the rescue operations and assured of all possible help, he added.

The officials, meanwhile, said attempts were also being made to stabilise the constantly falling loose debris inside the tunnel. A nearly 30-metre stretch of the tunnel, being built by the National Highways & Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL), has been affected by the cave-in.

NHIDCL Director Anshu Manish Khalko said loose debris hampering the rescue efforts was being stabilised using shotcrete a process involving spraying concrete.

Rescue efforts by personnel from multiple agencies, including the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), State Disaster Response Force (SDRF), Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and the Border Roads Organisation (BRO), have been going on since Sunday morning.

Khalko said, “All the trapped labourers are safe. They have been contacted several times on walkie-talkie and edibles and drinking water have been supplied to them.

District Magistrate Abhishek Ruhela went inside the tunnel on Monday morning to review the rescue efforts and discuss the strategy to save the labourers.

Dhami was accompanied by Garhwal Commissioner Vinay Shankar Pandey as he arrived in Silkyara to assess the situation.

The officials are optimistic about the safety of the trapped labourers as enough oxygen was made available to them through a water pipeline.

Press Trust of India (PTI) is India’s premier news agency, having a reach as vast as the Indian Railways. It employs more than 400 journalists and 500 stringers to cover almost every district and small town in India.

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