Two of three trapped workers rescued in Bilaspur
A National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) team rescued two of three workers who were trapped in a tunnel collapse in Bilaspur, Himachal Pradesh. The rescue came after the workers were trapped inside for 9 days after the tunnel collapsed on 12th September. A vertical shaft, 42 metres deep, had to be dug to reach the workers. The third worker is yet to be found.
Three workers were trapped after a tunnel being built for the Kiratpur-Nerchowk four-lane project collapsed at 8.30 pm. 275 m of the proposed 1.2 km-tunnel had to be excavated when tunnel-4 collapsed, trapping Satish Tomar, Mani Ram and Hirdey Ram. The Rs.82 crore project (and the workers) was under Chandigarh-based Himalayan Construction Company. The cause of the sudden collapse is subject to further investigation.
The Himachal Pradesh government finally called the army after the Bilaspur tunnel collapsed 2 days ago. Earth moving excavators which were being used in rescue attempts were damaged by debris, and a heavy-duty hydraulic drill was called from Jaipur to continue operations. Meanwhile, workers revealed that a 4m long crack which had appeared on the roof of the tunnel could have caused the collapse.
After 5 days of rescue attempts, authorities established contact with two of the workers- Satish Tomar and Mani Ram. This was achieved after engineers managed to drill a 47 m deep vertical shaft, 4 inches in diameter allowing authorities to supply the workers with food and water. A remote camera and a microphone were also lowered to facilitate communication. Hirdey Ram was not found.
The heavy-duty hydraulic drill, which was being used to drill a shaft wide enough to evacuate the workers, encountered several glitches. The rig broke down on the 18th and was subsequently repaired. With just 1 metre of thick rock left to be drilled, the rig malfunctioned again. Furthermore, rainwater accumulation slowed progress and a high-power pump had to be installed to counter it.
While the heavy-duty rig was drilling a vertical shaft, there were on-going operations to excavate the mouth of the collapsed tunnel. However, this horizontal route was blocked by more than 60 metres of debris, making the operation futile.