Uttarakhand Tunnel Collapse: A Force to Save Lives

The 2023 Uttarakhand tunnel collapse happened on November 12, 2023, in the Uttarkashi district of the Indian state of Uttarakhand. A section of the Silkyara Bend - Barkot tunnel, which was still under construction, collapsed. About 5:30 am local time, the tunnel collapsed, trapping 41 workers inside. The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF), and the police took the lead in the instant rescue efforts.

During the rescue operations, two tunnel boring machines have been used. Cracking noises were heard on November 17, which prompted the suspension of drilling through the debris in the tunnel. In parallel to the current main tunnel, other access tunnels have been initiated. Another strategy that is currently being planned would entail drilling below the surface of the land above the tunnel.

During the procedure, three pipes were drilled: one for oxygen, one for dry food passage, and next one, measuring six inches in width, which was used to supply hot meals and facilitate the insertion of an endoscopic camera.

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It was reported on November 21st that a wider pipe had been used to establish communication and supply to the workers who were trapped. The men had been supplied with oxygen, food, and other necessities through the pipes, including hot meals made of rice and lentils, dried fruits, and a small flexible camera for filming and communication. At this point, attempts were being made to drill three vertical shafts in addition to breaking through the tunnel's debris.

Drilling was delayed on November 22 and 23, with major repairs to the drilling machine and its mounting platform needed on November 23. At this point, it was thought that the operations had progressed approximately 75% of the way through the obstructing debris due to issues with the consistency of the rubble, metal rods, and a pipe stuck in it. 


The state's chief minister, Pushkar Singh Dhami, is supervising the rescue efforts, which are being carried out in collaboration with national and state disaster relief teams. According to Mr. Dhami, he spoke with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who pledged to provide all assistance in saving the workers. 

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Director General of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), Atul Karwal, has stated that the 41 workers who are trapped beneath a collapsed tunnel in Uttarakhand will be extracted one by one on wheeled stretchers through a large pipe that is still being drilled to reach them.


Making the workers crawl out one by one was another option that the rescuers had thought about. Despite being fed through tiny "lifeline" pipes, they have been living beneath the tunnel's rubble for the past 12 days without access to natural light or a full meal. Their health conditions, however, might make it impossible for them to escape on their own. 

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