Uttarkashi tunnel collapse | Another hurdle halts rescue work at Silkyara tunnel

NDRF plans to pull out the 41 workers, stuck in a collapsed tunnel in Uttarakhand’s Silkyara, one by one with the help of wheeled stretchers tied to ropes

November 23, 2023 07:14 am | Updated November 24, 2023 09:12 am IST

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami talks with workers trapped inside the under-construction tunnel between Silkyara and Dandalgaon on the Brahmakhal-Yamunotri national highway, in Uttarkashi district, Thursday, Nov. 23, 2023. Union Minister of State for Road Transport & Highways VK Singh is also seen.

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami talks with workers trapped inside the under-construction tunnel between Silkyara and Dandalgaon on the Brahmakhal-Yamunotri national highway, in Uttarkashi district, Thursday, Nov. 23, 2023. Union Minister of State for Road Transport & Highways VK Singh is also seen. | Photo Credit: PTI

Rescue operations at the Silkyara tunnel were delayed for hours on November 23 as the drilling machine ran into an iron lattice girder, a structural element of the tunnel which had been buried in the debris and had to be removed manually.

The machine only managed to bore through two more metres of debris by 6 p.m. on November 23, frustrating efforts to reach the 41 workers trapped by the collapse of the tunnel since November 12.

Watch: Uttarkashi tunnel collapse | First visuals of trapped workers emerge

“The machine encountered a metallic object [a lattice girder rib] and hence, pushing of the pipe stopped. Rescue team members Pradeep Yadav and Balwinder crawled inside the pipe and cut off the pieces of metal stuck at the mouth of the pipe using gas cutters. This task was completed at 2 a.m. on Thursday (November 23),”Uttarakhand Secretary Neeraj Khairwal said.

Also read: Uttarkashi tunnel collapse, November 24 updates

(With inputs from agencies)

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Uttarkashi tunnel collapse

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  • November 23, 2023 22:42
    CM Dhami to stay overnight at site

    Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami will stay overnight at the site to monitor the rescue operations which entered the final phase on Wednesday.

    Mr. Dhami will stay in Uttarkashi tonight to monitor the rescue operation of people trapped in the Silkyara Tunnel. He has set up his temporary camp office there so that there is no hindrance in his daily work.

    ”Along with this, it has been decided not to celebrate the Egas festival which is celebrated with great pomp in Uttarakhand today. Today, on the occasion of Egas, Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami was to participate in this festival along with about a thousand people at the Chief Minister’s residence which he also cancelled,” an official statement said.


  • November 23, 2023 22:29
    We are only metres away from finding passage to have men back: Arnold Dix
  • November 23, 2023 20:57
    Setback at Silkyara tunnel, drilling to rescue trapped workers put on hold again

    Drilling through the rubble of the collapsed Silkyara tunnel was put on hold again Thursday after the platform on which the equipment is mounted developed some cracks, in yet another setback to the effort to rescue the 41 workers trapped inside.

    The rescue workers will “stabilise” the platform on which the 25-tonne auger machine is mounted before drilling is resumed, officials said.

    Sections of steel pipes were being inserted through the rubble of the collapsed portion for the workers, trapped for 11 days, to be brought out.



  • November 23, 2023 20:13
    Auger machine drilling through rubble is experiencing ‘some difficulties’ again: International expert Arnold Dix

    International expert Arnold Dix on Thursday said the auger machine drilling through the rubble at Uttarkashi tunnel is experiencing ‘some difficulties’ again.

    The rescue pipe has so far pushed up to around 47 meters and 10 more meters are needed to be covered to reach the workers.

  • November 23, 2023 19:13
    Workers may be rescued in few hours or by tomorrow: NDMA on Silkyara tunnel collapse

    41 workers trapped in Uttarakhand’s Silkyara tunnel for the last 11 days are likely to be rescued in the next few hours or by tomorrow, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) member Lt Gen (retd) Syed Ata Hasnain said on Thursday evening.

    The drilling work to pull out 41 trapped workers encountered obstacles, which resulted in a temporary stoppage of rescue efforts.

    “I expect that in the next few hours or by tomorrow, we will be successful in this operation,” Mr. Hasnain said in a media briefing.

    The NDMA member also said that the horizontal drilling to rescue workers may face 3-4 more hurdles.


  • November 23, 2023 19:12
    “Uttarakhand Govt should claim responsibility for Uttarkashi tunnel collapse”: AAP leader Saurabh Bharadwaj

    Delhi Minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Saurabh Bharadwaj on Thursday asserted that the Uttarakhand government should take responsibility for the Uttarkashi tunnel collapse incident that has trapped 41 workers since November 12.

    Speaking to ANI on the incident, the Delhi Minister said, “I extend my best wishes to the family members of the trapped workers. The Uttarakhand government should take responsibility for this incident. They should claim responsibility for why an incident this big took place in the first place.”He questioned how the construction project was carried out without any soil testing and standard operating procedures.


  • November 23, 2023 18:29
    Uttarkashi tunnel collapse: Images show steel obstructing free movement of rescue pipe

    As the multi-rescue operation to provide a safe passage to 41 workers trapped in the Silkyara tunnel in Uttarkashi enters a critical stage, images of an auger drilling machine facing obstruction to save workers surfaced on Thursday afternoon.

    Some of the images showing the steel obstructing the free movement of the rescue pipe inside the tunnel and blocking the other side of the under-construction tunnel have been accessed by ANI.

    In one of the images, a shadow of a man is apparently seen capturing the moments on his mobile phone.


  • November 23, 2023 18:14
    Locals bring the ‘doli’ of the local deity to Silkyara tunnel
  • November 23, 2023 17:40
    “These operations are like war, timelines should not be assumed...”: NDMA on Uttarkashi tunnel rescue ops

    Member of the National Disaster Management Authority, Lt General (Rtd) Syed Ata Hasnain on Wednesday said that the rescue operation which is underway at Uttarkashi’s Silkyara tunnel where 41 workers remain trapped is like a “war” and no such specific timelines should be assumed by anyone.

    The NDMA Member said that this operation is just like a war situation where one keeps guessing about enemy moves. He further mentioned that in this operation ‘Himalayan geology’ is the enemy.

    Addressing a press briefing in New Delhi, Mr. Syed Ata Hasnain said, “Many experts are giving opinions that they might be rescued today evening, tomorrow morning but remember these operations are like a war. These operations should not be given a timeline. In wars, we don’t know how will the enemy react.”

  • November 23, 2023 16:44
    41 ambulances arranged at spot, doctors on standby

    A total of 41 ambulances have been arranged at the spot of Uttarkashi’s Silkyara tunnel where 41 workers remain trapped, an official said.

    Mukesh Nautiyal, the Project Manager of Operation 108 Ambulance initiative said that out of 41 ambulances, 31 ambulances are of ‘108’ while the other 10 have been provided by the administration.

    “There are 41 ambulances where 31 ambulances are of ‘108’ while the other 10 have been provided by the administration. Out of 31, 7 are ALS, while others are BLS. ALS stands for Advanced Life Support, and BLS is Basic Life Support. 27 ambulances are here, and there are 5 ambulances near the tunnel. All the ambulances are well equipped, it’s like a mini emergency,” Nautiyal told ANI.


  • November 23, 2023 16:24
    To put pressure on work force wrong: NDMA

  • November 23, 2023 15:55
    Trapped workers will be pulled out on wheeled stretchers: NDRF plan

    Once the rescue pipe breaks through the debris at the Silkyara tunnel, NDRF personnel plan to pull out the trapped workers one by one with the help of wheeled stretchers tied to ropes, a senior official said on Thursday.

    The NDRF men will go in through the pipe and once they reach the workers, they will use their equipment to start sending them out of the tunnel one by one, Karwal said.

    The workers will lie upon low-height, wheeled stretchers and NDRF men will pull them out one after another using ropes, officials said.


  • November 23, 2023 15:54
    We have reached 45 metres: Former advisor to PMO, Bhaskar Khulbe
  • November 23, 2023 15:29
    Inside the Uttarkashi tunnel

    Inside the Uttarkashi tunnel.jpg

  • November 23, 2023 15:00
    Rescue work to go on at night as well: IG Garhwal Range, KS Nagnyal
  • November 23, 2023 14:44
    Trapped workers' morale high: Neeraj Khairwal
  • November 23, 2023 14:25
    Only 1.8 metres of drilling in the last 18 hours

    Rescue agencies, which were hopeful of getting the trapped 41 workers in Silkyara free, on Thursday told media at 2 p.m. that only 1.8 metres of drilling could take place in the last 18 hours due to the hurdle that came on the machine’s way, Neeraj Khairwal, nodal officer of Silkyara tunnel rescue (Uttarakhand) said.

    The pipe is pushed upto around 47 meters and 10 more meters are needed to be covered to reach to the workers.

  • November 23, 2023 14:13
    Rescue operations resume after 6-hour delay

    Rescue operations to evacuate 41 workers trapped in Uttarakhand’s Silkyara tunnel resumed on Thursday morning after an overnight hurdle delayed the drilling by several hours.

    Former Advisor to the Prime Minister’s office Bhaskar Khulbe, who was at the site, said an iron mesh which had come in the path of the drilling machine that is creating an escape path for the workers was removed in the morning.

    Mr. Khulbe said the process of welding the pipes to go beyond 45 metres has been restarted. The drilling will also resume soon, he said.

  • November 23, 2023 13:52
    “Rescue op will be completed by the end of day:” says NDRF DG

    Director General of the National Disaster Response Force, Atul Karwal said that the multi-agency rescue operations to provide a safe passage to 41 workers trapped in the Silkyara tunnel in Uttarakashi will be completed by the end of the day.

    DG NDRF said while speaking to ANI,” “The auger machine has started operating again. We are estimating to send 2-3 pipes of 6 metres inside. Hopefully, by the end of the day, if we do not encounter any obstacles, the rescue operation will be completed...”


  • November 23, 2023 13:27
    CM Dhami offers prayers at Uttarkashi
  • November 23, 2023 13:05
    Priyanka Gandhi prays for labourers

    Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra wished for the safety of the 41 labourers trapped in Uttarakhand’s Silkyara tunnel.

    In a post in Hindi on X, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi said the news is that the ongoing operation to save the workers is moving towards success and there is hope that everyone will come out safely soon.

    “We pray to God that all the labourer brothers come out as soon as possible and reach their homes in good health. The prayers of the entire country are with them,” she said.

    “The government is requested to provide proper compensation and help to these labourer brothers who are risking their lives day and night to serve the nation,” Priyanka Gandhi said.

  • November 23, 2023 12:44
    PM Modi calls CM Dhami, enquires about progress

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday spoke to Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami on the phone and sought information about the ongoing rescue operation.

    “The Prime Minister was informed about the progress being made in the relief and rescue operations being conducted on a war footing in coordination with the central agencies, international experts and the state administration.

    Respected Prime Minister was also informed about ensuring the arrangement of a team of doctors, ambulance, heli service and temporary hospital for the treatment and care of the workers and instructions were given to the doctors at AIIMS Rishikesh to be ready in case of any emergency,” wrote Mr. Dhami on X.

  • November 23, 2023 12:29
    “Covered majority distance, only little left,” says Uttarkashi District Magistrate

    Uttarkashi District Magistrate Abhishek Ruhela said on Thursday morning that rescuers have drilled and considerably breached through the debris of the collapsed portion of the Sikyara tunnel to reach closer to the trapped workers.

    He told ANI that only a little more work is left for the completion of the rescue operation.

  • November 23, 2023 12:00
    “Welding of last pipe of 6m under way:” NDRF DG Atul Karwal

    National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) Director General Atul Karwal reached the Silkyara Tunnel collapse site on Thursday. The NDRF DG was confident of pushing through the rescue effort at the earliest.

    Karwal told media that welding of last pipe of 6 meters length is happening. If all goes well, rescue operation might end today, he added.

    “Our teams are ready, and I hope we will be able to rescue the workers soon” he told ANI.

  • November 23, 2023 11:36
    “It’s like we’re there, knocking at front door” says tunnelling expert Arnold Dix

    International tunnel expert Arnold Dix said the operation has progressed significantally and it seems they were “knocking at the front door.”

    “At the moment, it’s like we are there at the front door and we are knocking on it. We know that the guys are there on the other side,” he told reporters.


  • November 23, 2023 11:23
    CM Dhami reaches tunnel

    Uttarakhand CM Dhami Uttarkashi tunnel.jpeg

  • November 23, 2023 11:15
    Will take another 12 hours, says official

    Uttarkashi tunnel rescuers will take 12 to 14 hours more to complete drilling and reach workers, according to Bhaskar Khulbe, former advisor to PMO.

    Officials had earlier said that the rescue workers would be able to break through this morning, but overnight efforts were stalled after the drills encountered unexpected iron rods in the debris.

  • November 23, 2023 10:43
    Australian tunnelling expert Arnold Dix seen praying outside tunnel

    arnold dix uttarkashi tunnel praying.jpeg

  • November 23, 2023 10:32
    Iron mesh cleared: Official

    Uttarkashi tunnel rescuers cut through iron mesh that blocked drilling last night: Bhaskar Khulbe, former advisor to PMO.


  • November 23, 2023 10:06
    Drilling machine blades damaged

    Some blades of the drilling machine were damaged by a metal object in the debris.

    Special cutters have been arranged from New Delhi and Dehradun, the capital of Uttarakhand state, and efforts were being made to remove the metal obstruction to resume drilling, said Kirti Panwar, a state government spokesman.

    The drilling machine is being repaired and will be realigned to resume drilling, said Devendra Patwal, a disaster management official.


  • November 23, 2023 09:48
    CM Dhami at Uttarkashi to oversee final stages of workers’ rescue

    Preparations to evacuate the 41 workers trapped in the Silkayara tunnel in Uttarkashi since November 12 are in the final stage, the Uttrakhand Chief Minister’s Office said in a press release.

    According to the CMO, preparations to evacuate the workers are in the final stages and the Chief Minister himself is present in Uttarkashi.


  • November 23, 2023 09:20
    Watch | He never told us his work was dangerous: Brother of trapped Uttarkashi tunnel victim

    Maharaj Singh Negi, the brother of one of the trapped workers, said that when the tunnel caved in, they were not informed about it.

    Watch the video here.

  • November 23, 2023 08:49
    Medical equipment arrive
  • November 23, 2023 08:33
    Last pipe being pushed in

    The last pipe to prepare an escape passage for the trapped workers is being pushed in through the rubble, according to PTI.

    The drilling of 800 mm diameter steel pipes through the rubble had hit a minor hurdle late Wednesday when some iron rods came in the way of the auger machine. However, the rods were removed by the Andaman team using a gas cutter.


  • November 23, 2023 08:08
    Families hope to find light at the end of the tunnel

    Rajni Kisku from Bihar’s Banka district could not hold her tears when she, on November 21, was made to speak to her husband Virender Kisku who is one among the 41 workers trapped.

    Since the day she landed in Silkyara along with her brother-in-law, she spends the entire day sitting outside the tunnel in hope that her husband will come out of the tunnel in good shape.

    Read the story here of families waiting for their loved ones to be rescued.

  • November 23, 2023 07:49
    Hospital beds readied
  • November 23, 2023 07:35
    Central trade unions call for probe into tunnel collapse

    The platform of ten Central Trade Unions (CTUs) has expressed its anguish at the failure of the authorities to take responsibility for the Silkyara Tunnel collapse in Uttarkashi. In a joint statement here on Wednesday, the CTUs said accidents at work places expose the weaknesses of laws in regard to work place safety of workers and also bring to light the violations of existing laws.

    Read the full story here.

  • November 23, 2023 07:23
    Visuals of rescue workers entering tunnel
  • November 23, 2023 07:17
    Laying of 12-metre pipeline is still left to rescue trapped workers

    The work of laying a 12-meter pipeline is still left at the Silkyara tunnel in Uttarkashi to rescue 41 workers, said Colonel Deepak Patil who is leading the rescue efforts of the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL).

    However, the steel rods in the debris have been removed by the Andaman team through a gas cutter and the obstruction on the way has been eliminated, he said.

    “The front part of the last pipe was damaged; the work of cutting it is going on. We have to join two joints, it will take 6 hours. Currently, only a 44-meter pipeline is being laid officially,” he added.


  • November 23, 2023 07:14
    Rescue operation in final stretch

    “We have inserted pipes 44 meters via horizontal drilling. However, we have found some steel rods in the debris. The machine couldn’t cut those rods. Therefore, NDRF personnel will cut those rods following which we will use the machine again,” said rescue officer Harpal Singh, who is also the Project Head of the under-construction Zoji-la Tunnel project in Kashmir.

    “I have full confidence that steel pieces can be cut within an hour and in the next 5 hours two pipes can be pushed in and the rescue operation could start,” he said late Wednesday night.


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