As operations to rescue the 41 trapped workers at the Silkyara Tunnel collapse site entered day 16, there was some positive news with Micro tunnelling expert Chris Cooper saying that all the debris of the auger machine has been removed and manual drilling to reach the trapped labourers will start in a few hours.
Earlier today, a plasma cutter was used to cut and remove the auger machine that was being used to drill the tunnel horizontally but became lodged inside the pipe.
“We have 9 meters of hand tunnelling to do. It really depends on how the ground behaves. Could be quickly, could be a bit longer. If we hit some lattice girder. Then we’ve got to cut out the lattice girder, but we’re confident we can get through. The Army is just supervising (the operation). 30 metres of (vertical drilling) has been done”, he added.
Earlier today, Lieutenant General Harpal Singh (Retd), a former Army Engineer-in-Chief, endorsed the manual method, stating that it is the only remaining option for reaching the trapped workers. Singh claimed that he arrived at the scene to offer technical assistance and support for the ongoing rescue efforts. He continued by saying that every effort is being made to expedite the rescue procedure. Officials say that in order to expedite the rescue, the debris inside the pipe will be removed by hand drilling using the rat hole mining technique.