Rescue Challenges Mount as Manual Drilling Becomes the Focus in Himalayan Tunnel Operation

Rescue Challenges Mount as Manual Drilling Becomes the Focus in Himalayan Tunnel Operation

SILKYARA, India - Rescue efforts for the 41 workers trapped in an Indian Himalayan highway tunnel face additional delays as officials contemplate manual drilling through the last 10 meters of debris, following the damage to the heavy auger machine on Friday.

The machine, used to break through nearly 60 meters of debris, broke at a joint during extraction. Once removed, manual drilling will be employed, heightening concerns for those trapped, including Birendra Kishku, who reported not having eaten since yesterday.

The tunnel collapse's cause remains undisclosed, but the region's susceptibility to landslides and natural disasters raises questions. An anonymous expert revealed the absence of an emergency exit in the tunnel, built through a geological fault, adding complexity to the rescue operation.

The primary rescue plan involves inserting a wide pipe to facilitate the evacuation of trapped workers on wheeled stretchers. A secondary plan, involving vertical drilling from atop the hill, is underway. Meanwhile, the trapped men receive cooked food through a lifeline pipe, with doctors, including psychiatrists, monitoring their health.

The medical team advises light exercises, social interaction, and even considers providing playing cards and board games to alleviate stress.

The collapsed tunnel, situated on the Char Dham pilgrimage route, is a component of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ambitious project to connect four key Hindu pilgrimage sites with a 890 km two-lane road, costing $1.5 billion. As the rescue mission unfolds, the nation remains on edge, hoping for a successful extraction of the trapped workers.

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