Rough dimension of the tunnel where the accident happened
The total length of the tunnel, which is meant to connect Silkyara to Dandalgaon in Uttarkashi district, is 4.5km (4531m). The collapse happened about 270m from the entrance of the Silkyara side. The double-lane tunnel is pegged as one of the longest tunnels under the Char Dham all-weather road project and aims to reduce the journey from Uttarkashi to Yamunotri Dham by 26 kilometres. From the Silkyara side, 2.3km of tunnel has been constructed, while 1.6km of tunneling work has been completed from the Barkot end. Approximately, a 400m stretch of the tunnel is yet to be constructed.
Rescuers were able to communicate with the trapped workers using radio handsets, after initially sending a note on a scrap of paper. They also provided them with some small food packets through a pipe that was delivering oxygen to the blocked part of the tunnel. “We are facing some difficulty in the rescue due to excess debris in the tunnel, but our team is leaving no stone unturned,” Bhandari said. Rescue official Durgesh Rathodi said that they had cleared about 20 metres of heavy debris, but the workers were still 40 metres further inside.
What’s being done to reach those stranded
Large excavators and heavy machines have been pressed into service to remove the debris from the portion of the tunnel which caved-in. According to the officials, debris up to 20 metres has been removed so far to open the tunnel and prepare an escape passage for the workers, and around 35 metres are still to be covered. Oxygen, food and water have been sent to the trapped workers through a pipe.
The Uttarakhand chief minister Pushkar Singh Dhami visited the site of the accident on Monday and assured that the rescue work was going on non-stop to save the trapped workers. He posted on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, that the workers had been contacted through a walkie-talkie and that they would be brought out safely soon. A rescue worker told the Press Trust of India news agency that they had reached the workers shortly after midnight on Monday. Disaster response official Devendra Patwal said that the workers had enough space and air in the tunnel area where they were.
The tunnel, which is 4.5 kilometres long, connects Silkyara and Dandalgaon and is part of a road project to improve access to some of the most sacred sites and the border areas with China. The project is called the Char Dham Road Project. The tunnel’s roof collapsed on Sunday morning, trapping 40 workers inside. The rescue teams released photos of the huge piles of debris blocking the tunnel, with bent metal bars hanging from the broken roof. State has a history of accidents on large infrastructure projects. Earlier this year, more than 200 people died in flash floods in Uttarakhand, which experts partly blamed on excessive development.
At least 40 people are trapped inside the tunnel after a portion of an under-construction tunnel of the Centre’s ambitious Char Dham all-weather highway project collapsed in the stretch between Silkayara and Polgaon villages of Yamunotri in Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand. Read more.