Indian tunnel rescue enters third day

14 November 2023

Excavators have begun drilling to fix a steel pipe to pull out 40 workers trapped in a collapsed Himalayan road tunnel in the north Indian state of Uttarakhand, according to media reports.

A section of the 4.5km Silkyara Barkot Tunnel, being developed for National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation (NHIDCL), suffered a part collapse on Sunday. The workers are said to be safe and have been supplied with food, water and oxygen.

Reuters reports that excavators have been removing debris and have been awaiting delivery of a 900mm diameter steel pipe to create an escape passage.

Devendra Singh Patwal, a disaster management official, told media that geologists from the state government and educational institutions had arrived to determine the cause of the accident.

Posting on LinkedIn, ITA president Arnold Dix said he had confirmation from the co-ordinator of the rescue operations that good progress was being made and the trapped workers were safe.

“I am reliably informed the rescue is being performed carefully with an anticipated rescue soon,” said Dix. “I fully support the considered and careful efforts of the rescue mission – safely progressing these highly technical rescue operations is essential.”

He added: “This area of the world is extremely geologically active – and the portals vulnerable to extreme landslide events. I endorse careful rescue operations in such extreme circumstances and personally have great confidence in these rescue efforts.”

The Silkyara-Barkot Tunnel is being constructed between the towns of Silkyara and Dandalgaon.