Sordid tales of construction workers communicating with their family members from inside the broken tunnel in Uttarkashi have emerged as they battle for life for the 7th day with literally no light at the end of the tunnel. The voice of the trapped workers is gradually becoming feeble while the rescue work halted on Friday night fearing further collapse in the tunnel. Pushkar, a 25-year-old construction worker, trapped in the tunnel urged his brother Vikram Singh to not tell their mother that he was stuck, AFP reported citing Times of India. “Don’t tell Ma that I am one of those stuck here. Mother will be worried if you tell her the truth,” Pushkar told Vikram as they spoke on the radio.
The family members are waiting outside, praying for a breakthrough — anxious. The Uttarakhand government decided to provide accommodation, food and health facilities to the family members waiting outside the Silkyara Tunnel.
The trapped workers are surviving on light edibles like chana, kheer and badam sent to them through a pipe.
“I could not talk to my brother. His voice sounded very weak. He was hardly audible. Rescue work in the tunnel has come to a halt. Those trapped are also short of food and water. We have come to the end of our patience. What more can I say?” Maharaj Singh, brother of a construction worker, told PTI.
Uttarkashi tunnel collapse day 7: Here are the latest updates
1. The rescue operation was suspended on Friday after the machine developed a snag.
2. The machine was a US-made auger machine deployed to drill and push in pipe to the rubble to carve out an escape passage for the 41 workers. But after a crack was heard on Friday, the operation was stalled apprehending more cave-ins.
3. The auger machine drilled up to 24 metres through the rubble spread over a 60-metre area inside the tunnel before giving in.
4. The auger machine had to be paused every now and then when it was working because of fumes and vibrations. The auger machine replaced the earlier drilling machine which had limited capacity.
5. Another drilling machine has been airlifted from Indore after the auger machine work has been halted.
6. Micro tunnelling expert Chris Cooper reached the site on Sunday to monitor the rescue operation. Cooper is a consultant for the Rishikesh Karnprayag rail project
7. Bhaskar Khulbe, former Advisor, PMO and Mangesh Ghildiyal, Deputy Secretary PMO arrived at Silkyara tunnel on Saturday to monitor the situation, news agency ANI reported.
A part of the tunnel collapsed at around 5.30am on October 12 and it was said that 40 workers were trapped inside the tunnel. On Friday, the number was revised to 41 and Bihar’s Deepak Kumar was identified as the 41st person to be stuck in the tunnel.
The 4531-metre Silkyara Tunnel is part of the Chardham Project of Ministry of Road Transport and Highways and will link the Gangotri and Yamunotri axis under the Radi pass area. The tunnel is being constructed by NHIDCL through Navayuga Engineering Company Ltd at a cost of ₹853.79 crore.