All trapped workers in Uttarkashi tunnel collapse safe, will be rescued; CM

Uttarkashi (U’khand): All 40 workers trapped after an under-construction tunnel collapsed in Uttarkashi are safe and communication has been established with them, officials said on Monday as Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami reached the site to oversee rescue operations.

Rescuers who worked overnight trying to prepare an escape passage for the labourers have provided them with food and water, the Silkyara police control room said. The workers have been trapped for nearly 30 hours now.

A portion of the tunnel being built between Silkyara and Dandalgaon on the Brahmakhal-Yamunotri National Highway caved in on Sunday morning.

The workers were safe and communication established with them, officials said. They were optimistic about the safety of the trapped labourers as enough oxygen was made available to them through a water pipeline.

Officials said attempts were being made to stabilise the falling loose debris. A nearly 30-metre stretch of the tunnel, being built by the National Highways & Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL), has been affected by the cave-in, they said.

NHIDCL Director Anshu Manish Khalko said debris hampering the rescue efforts was being stabilised using shotcrete, a process that involved spraying concrete.

“All the trapped labourers are safe. They have been contacted several times on walkie-talkie and edibles and drinking water have been supplied to them,” Khalko said.

Personnel from multiple agencies, including the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), State Disaster Response Force (SDRF), Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and the Border Roads Organisation (BRO), were involved in the rescue.

District magistrate Abhishek Ruhela went inside the tunnel on November 13 morning to review the rescue efforts and discuss the strategy to save the labourers.