The collapse of the Uttarkashi tunnel has prompted officials to utilize drone cameras for monitoring the ongoing rescue operation aimed at evacuating 41 trapped workers beneath the Silkyara tunnel, which caved in on November 12. Spearheaded by a 15-member National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) team, the rescue mission has reached a critical phase. Here are the latest updates on the Uttarkashi tunnel collapse:

  1. Cyriac Joseph, Managing Director and CEO of Squadron Infra and Mining Pvt Limited, affirmed the use of drone technology, stating, “Our priority is the safety of the trapped laborers, which is why we have deployed drones to monitor their situation.”
  2. Joseph highlighted the advanced capabilities of the drones, designed to navigate tunnels autonomously, even in GPS-denied areas. This marks the first instance of employing such drones in a disaster of this nature.
  3. Asifmulla, an associate lead mining engineer, emphasized the cutting-edge nature of the drones and their application in underground mines and tunnels. Teams from Bengaluru have joined the effort, conducting drilling operations to facilitate the rescue.
  4. Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami closely oversees the rescue operations, now in their final phase. Officials caution against assuming specific timelines for the operation.
  5. Prime Minister Narendra Modi conversed with Uttarakhand CM Dhami, seeking updates on the ongoing rescue of the 41 workers trapped in the Silkyara tunnel.
  6. Horizontal drilling, utilizing 800 mm diameter steel pipes, has progressed significantly, with approximately 12 meters remaining in the 57-meter debris stretch as of November 22. However, an evening setback occurred when iron rods obstructed the auger machine.
  7. The National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL) resumed “horizontal boring operations from the Silkyara end” on November 21, employing an auger machine.
  8. Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, after reviewing the rescue operation, expressed optimism in the horizontal boring method, anticipating a breakthrough within two and a half days.
  9. PMO officials and experts explored alternative evacuation plans, including simultaneous efforts such as vertical drilling through the top of the tunnel.
  10. Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren raised concerns on Wednesday about the delayed evacuation of workers from the under-construction Silkyara tunnel in Uttarakhand.

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