In a major development, the rescue officials – who had been working non-stop to reach the workers trapped inside a tunnel in Uttarakhand for the last 10 days – have managed to capture their images through an endoscopy camera.
The endoscopy camera was sent inside the tunnel through a six-inch pipe that was pushed through the rubble last night to send food items for the workers.
The rescue officials also spoke to some workers through Walkie Talkies or radio handsets. In the video, the rescue officials are seen asking the workers to come in front of the camera.
“Aap camera ke paas walkie talkie pe aake baat karein (come in front of the camera and talk to us through Walkie Talkie),” an official is heard asking them.
The rescuers were sent khichdi in glass bottles – their first hot meal in 10 days – through the pipe last night. Earlier, only dry fruits and water could be sent in.
Rescue operation in-charge Colonel Deepak Patil said the workers will also be sent mobiles, and chargers through the pipe.
Over the past week, repeated attempts to rescue the workers had failed owing to several challenges, including the topography and the nature of rocks in the area.
The Centre has devised a five-option action plan that involve drilling from three sides to access the trapped workers. Five different agencies have been tasked with carrying out each operation.
Two tunnels will be drilled horizontally from the right and left sides of the main tunnel, while a vertical shaft will be drilled from the top of the tunnel.
The round-the-clock rescue work is being carried out by multiple agencies, including NDRF, SDRF, BRO, and the ITBP. An international tunnelling expert team also arrived at the spot yesterday. A robotics team from defence research organization DRDO has also reached.
The 41 workers have been stuck since last Sunday after a portion of the tunnel caved in. Officials said that all workers are safe and are being supplied food and water through steel pipes that have been drilled into the opening.
The under-construction tunnel is part of the ambitious Char Dham project, a national infrastructure initiative to enhance connectivity to the Hindu pilgrimage sites of Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri.