A remarkable and challenging 17-day humanitarian operation came to a successful end as all 41 lives trapped in the Silkyara-Dandalgaon tunnel, located on the Brahmakal-Yamunotri highway in Uttarkashi, Uttarakhand, India, were safely rescued. The tunnel collapse occurred on November 12th, posing a significant threat to the lives of the 41 workers inside.
The Silkyara-Dandalgaon tunnel collapsed on November 12, trapping 41 workers. The incident took place in the 2 km long tunnel that was being constructed in a mountainous area. The trapped workers were at a depth of 48 meters in the surface hilly terrain.
The rescue operations started with the provision of oxygenated ventilation through a tube into the trapped tunnel. Communication with the trapped workers was established through the tube.
Planned excavation commenced two days after the accident. Horizontal drilling started with drills and a supply line for essentials was established by November 14. Horizontal drilling advanced about 24 meters, but the rig broke down. An advanced technical drilling rig was therefore, airlifted from Delhi to expedite operations.
A significant cracking sound from the tunnel led to the temporary suspension of operations. Efforts to drill vertically above the tunnel were hindered by obstacles like iron-clad wire rods. Vertical drilling faced interruptions despite overcoming obstacles.
Tunnel experts Arnold Dix and Chris Cooper suggested completing the excavation using human labor. A team of 12 experienced tunneling experts joined the operation on Monday (27). The final section, about 10 to 12 meters of debris, was hand-dug by tunneling experts. Human labor successfully completed the excavation, allowing a pipe to be inserted into the tunnel.
The first worker emerged from the tunnel through the pipe yesterday (28) at 7.56 pm. The remaining 41 trapped workers were successfully rescued in good health. A special ward with 41 oxygen support beds was prepared at the Community Health Center in Chinyalisore for the rescued workers.