A massive landslide has trapped 40 labourers in a cave in the northern state of Uttarakhand, India. The Indian Air Force has dispatched three aircraft to transport a 25-ton ray of hope, as these labourers have been trapped for three days now.
Indian officials are contacting Norwegian and Thai expert rescue teams. The 2018 Thai cave rescue team is also requested to join the efforts. The labourers were trapped after an under-construction tunnel collapsed on the Char Dham route in Uttarkashi.
The Indian Air Force is delivering a machine capable of penetrating 4–5 metres of debris in an hour. After successfully installing the machine, a rescue pipe can be attached to the cave opening. It will take at least 12 hours to fit the pipe. The pipe has a diameter of 900 mm, which is wide enough for the labourers to fit through.
Officials stated that the pipe should arrive early in the evening and be attached and working in the following hours.
A rescue company from Thailand is also requested to aid in the rescue efforts. The same rescue company headed the 2018 rescue of the Thai Junior Association football team trapped in Tham Luang Nang Non. The boys were grounded in a cave system in the Chiang Rai region of northern Thailand. Indian officials stated their expertise would be invaluable in rescuing the trapped labourers.
The government also requests help from the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute and Indian government bodies such as Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd., Rail India Technical and Economic Service (RITES) and Indian Railway Construction International Ltd.
Anshu Manish Khalko, Director of National Highways and Infrastructure Development, commented, “The machine is on the way and should arrive soon. In three-four hours, we can begin working on it. More falling debris is covering cleared areas. So, that is not our focus. We are trying to push the pipe through.''
Labourers Are Safe For Now
Khalko also states that the labourers are safe and communicating with their families. They have ample food and water, and communication keeps their morale high.
Officials are also working on a backup plan in case the pipe cannot be attached to the cave entrance. They have not revealed the backup plan. Khalko states that officials cannot give a timeframe for the rescue as it is dangerous and tedious. But they will not rest until all the labourers are safe and accounted for.
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