Vertical and manual horizontal drilling are two methods being focused on now (File)
Manual horizontal digging will start soon in addition to the ongoing top-down drilling to rescue the 41 trapped workers in the Silkyara tunnel in Uttarkashi, the National Disaster Management Authority, or NDMA, said today.
Giving an update on the rescue operations, NDMA member Lt Gen Syed Ata Hasnain (Retd.) told reporters that rat-hole miners will start the manual digging shortly. Broken parts of the auger machine have been removed from the rubble with the help of a plasma cutter flown in from Hyderabad.
He further said the government is fully committed to ensuring the safe rescue of all the 41 workers trapped in the tunnel since November 12 and added that private and public agencies are involved in the rescue operations.
Manual drilling was resorted to as the auger drill - a corkscrew-like device with a rotary blade at the front end, which drilled up to 46.8 metres, was busted as it hit several hurdles on the way and got entangled in a girder in the debris.
Vertical and manual horizontal drilling are the two methods on which rescue efforts are being focused at the moment. Work on other options, such as horizontal drilling from the Barkot end of the tunnel, is also underway.
A total of 86 metres will have to be drilled vertically to prepare an escape passage. Pipes of 1.2 metres in diameter will have to be laid vertically through the top of the tunnel on which work began on Sunday as a second option to reach the stranded labourers.
Prime Minister's Principal Secretary PK Mishra, Home Secretary Ajay K Bhalla and Uttarakhand Chief Secretary S S Sandhu also took stock of the ongoing rescue operations.
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