Indian army uses their hand to rescue trapped workers

Indian army uses their hand to rescue trapped workers

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Indian army uses their hand to rescue trapped workers

Indian Army

Indian army uses their hand to rescue trapped workers. Indian military engineers were preparing to dig by hand Monday to reach 41 laborers who had been stranded for 16 days in a collapsed road tunnel, a rescue mission beset by delays.

Soldiers plan to use a so-called “rat-hole mining” technique, digging by hand to clear the rocks and rubble over the remaining nine metres (29 feet), with temperatures plummeting in the remote mountain location in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand.


Last week, engineers working to drive a metal pipe horizontally through 57 metres (187 feet) of rock and concrete ran into metal girders and construction vehicles buried in the earth, snapping a giant earth-boring auger machine.

“The broken parts of the auger (drilling) machine stuck inside the tunnel have been removed,” senior local public servant Abhishek Ruhela told AFP on Monday, following the arrival of a specialized superheated plasma cutter to clean the metal.

“Preparations are being made to start manual drilling work,” he said. “Indian Army engineering battalion personnel, along with other rescue officers, are preparing to do rat-hole mining” .

Engineers will use manual drills to clear the channel in the brutally cold weather, a difficult effort in the tight conduit only big enough for a man to crawl inside.

Chris Cooper, a tunnel expert who is aiding the rescue teams, believes the soldiers will be able to dig their way out.

“It depends on how the ground behaves,” he told reporters, adding that they might still have to cut through heavy-duty girders that were supposed to support the collapsing roof. “We are confident that we can overcome it” .

– ‘Challenging’

A separate effort has reached more than a fourth of the 89 metres down to the men, a perilous route in an area that has already collapsed.

On a specially built track, a drilling equipment was transported to the forested hill above the tunnel.

“Vertical drilling is progressing quickly,” said Mahmood Ahmed, a top official in the national highways ministry, with teams having reached 19 metres (63 feet) by late Sunday.

Work is ongoing at “full speed but with caution”, he added.

Digging, blasting and drilling have also begun from the far side of the road tunnel, a much longer third route estimated to be around 480 metres.

Since November 12, 41 construction workers have been stranded in the Silkyara road tunnel.

Efforts have been excruciatingly slow, made more difficult by falling debris and numerous drilling machine problems.

On Wednesday, hopes that the team was nearing a breakthrough were shattered by a government statement warning of the “challenging Himalayan terrain.”

For the bereaved family of the trapped soldiers, it has been a nightmare with no end in sight.

But Uttarakhand chief minister Pushkar Singh Dhami vowed Monday that all the men would be rescued.

“Do not worry, all the labourers will be taken out safely,” he said on X, formerly Twitter.

The workers were seen alive for the first time on Tuesday, peering into the lens of an endoscopic camera sent by rescuers down a thin pipe through which air, food, water and electricity are being delivered.

Though trapped, they have plenty of space in the tunnel, with the area inside 8.5 metres high and stretching about two kilometres in length.

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