Uttarkashi tunnel collapse: Protests break out as falling debris hinders rescue of workers, bigger machine flown in

India has contacted a Thai company for the rescue of 40 workers trapped in a collapsed tunnel in Uttarkashi.

Since Sunday morning, the debris is being removed from the site to create an escape tunnel for the workers.

Officials have “contacted the Thai company which rescued the children trapped in the cave,” the Uttarakhand government’s department of public relations said in a statement.

In 2018, the Thai company rescued 12 boys from a junior football team and their coach who were trapped for more than two weeks in the Tham Luang cave complex.

Officials said the labourers were safe, and oxygen, electricity, medicines, food items and water were being supplied to them through pipes.

On Wednesday, a heavy drilling machine was airlifted from Delhi to replace the “failed” equipment which was being used earlier to create a passage for 40 workers.

The new machine, that landed at Chinyalisaur, over 30 kilometres from the tunnel on the Chardham route, is being put into service, amid apprehension by workers at the site on the progress of the multi-agency rescue operations.


Abhishek Rohilla, district magistrate of Uttarkashi, said: “The machine has come through special aircraft of the Indian Air Force… Soon, the third aircraft will also arrive. Once all the parts of the machine are here, they will be assembled… We have transported this machine here to make the rescue process easier…”


“…Continuous monitoring is being done by Central and state government… There was a need for a high-capacity drilling machine…It is being sent by the planes of Air Force andarrangement of Green corridor has been done so that they reach here sooner…,” said Rohilla.

Some workers chanted slogans at the mouth of the tunnel on the Brahmakhal-Yamunotri National Highway, protesting over the “slow” pace of the operation to rescue their colleagues trapped inside for over 72 hours now.

The plan was to to drill through the rubble of the tunnel’s collapsed portion and insert 800-mm and 900-mm diameter sections of mild steel pipes — one after the other. But the first drilling machine turned out to be too slow and technical issues also developed.

Also, falling debris inside the tunnel damaged the equipment and injured two rescue workers on Tuesday.

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