As many as 12 rat-hole mining experts were called in to finish the last stretch of drilling by using hand-held tools in a confined space after the broken parts of the auger drilling machine were removed from the rubbles
Rescue operations are near a breakthrough as the pipe has to be pushed for another two metres to reach the 41 workers who have been trapped in the Silkyara tunnel for 16 days, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) said on Tuesday, reported news agency PTI.
As many as 12 rat-hole mining experts were called in to finish the last stretch of drilling by using hand-held tools in a confined space after the broken parts of the auger drilling machine were removed from the rubbles, reported PTI.
Giving an update on the rescue operations, NDMA Member Lt Gen (retd) Syed Ata Hasnain told reporters here that 58 metres of drilling has been done, and the rescue pipe has to be pushed towards the trapped workers by another two meters, reported PTI.
"We are near a breakthrough but not yet there," he said, and added that trapped workers have heard the sounds of machines, reported PTI.
Once the breakthrough is achieved, it would take 3-4 hours to bring out all the trapped workers, he said, it would take about 3-5 minutes to pull out each worker on a wheeled stretcher through the pipe, reported PTI.
He also said that rat miners did a phenomenal job by digging 10 metres in less than 24 hours, reported PTI.
Hasnain said all security and safety precautions are being taken for workers trapped inside Silkyara tunnel and for those engaged in rescue operations, reported PTI.
"We are not in a hurry," he said, and added facilities are in place to provide medical aid to the workers. After the rescue, workers will be kept under medical observation for 48-72 hours, reported PTI.
Rescue workers on Tuesday were close to breaking through the 60-metre stretch of rubble of the collapsed Silkyara tunnel in Uttarakhand in which 41 workers are trapped for the last 16 days, officials said.
At the disaster site, state government`s information department chief Bansi Dhar Tiwari told reporters a little after 1.30 pm that the drilling was "over".
Less than an hour later, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami said the process of laying the escape pipe into the drilled passage was complete. "Soon all brother workers will be brought out," he posted on social media.
(With inputs from PTI)